Is Kinesio Tape for You?

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Is Kinesio Tape for You?

Article from May 13, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

CLAIM: The Kinesio® Taping Method is a therapeutic taping technique used in conjunction with Kinesio Tex tape.  It targets different receptors within the somatosensory system; Kinesio® Tex Tape alleviates pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin.  This lifting affect forms convolutions in the skin thus increasing interstitial space and allowing for a decrease in inflammation of the affected areas. Kinesio® has the ability to re-educate the neuromuscular system, reduce pain and inflammation, enhance performance, prevent injury and promote good circulation and healing, and assist in returning the body to homeostasis. It has been proven to have positive physiological effects on the skin, lymphatic and circulatory system, fascia, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints.

P: Kinesio Tex tape and taping method alleviates pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage, re-educates the neuromuscular system, reduces pain and inflammation, enhances performance, prevents injury, promotes good circulation and healing, and assists in returning the body to homeostasis.

I: Use of Kinesio tape and taping method for the treatment of common athletic injuries

C: Use of other treatment modalities not involving the taping of the treatment area

O: Kinesio taping has shown some promise in limited small scale testing on selected areas. Further research is needed to confirm the advertised benefits of Kinesio Tape and Taping method.

GROUNDS: Yoshida (2007) evaluated the effectiveness of Kinesio Tape on trunk flexion, extension and lateral flexion. Thirty healthy male and female participants had a piece of Y-shaped kinesio tape applied to the origin of the sarcospinaris to the estimated insertion as theorized to support muscle function. The tape did improve lower trunk flexion and had no effect on extension or lateral flexion. (1) Merino (2011) evaluated the effects of Kinesio taping on the gastrocnemius and soleus to prevent cramping and injury during Olympic length triathlons. Kinesio tape was applied to both calves of six  healthy male triathletes 1-2 hours before racing. An interview was conducted post race to determine if the athlete had cramping or contractures. (2)  Cools (2002) evaluated electromyographic activity of the taped scapular rotators in the shoulders of twenty healthy male subjects. A strip of Fixomull stretch tape was applied over the upper trapezius anterior and proximal of the clavicle. Recording electrodes were placed over the upper, middle and lower portions of the trapezius and portion of the serratus anterior to measure electromyographic signal response during muscle contractions. Movements were evaluated with and without tape. (3)

WARRANT: The performance claims made by the Kinesio® taping method and Kinesio® Tex Tape on their website were not substantiated by the literature I reviewed. Supporting documentation or any other type of scientific, peer reviewed supporting documentation was not listed on their website. There are several supporting studies referenced in the literature by the annual Kinesio Taping International Symposium. (4) I believe a bias exists between the studies performed by the Kinesio Taping Institute and related discussions and papers.  

BACKING: The Merino (2011) study did not provide adequate data i.e. the total number of races used for the  evaluation was not provided nor was a long term follow-up after the races performed to determine post race DOM’s or injury.(2) The study lacked a control group and it was not stated if the same person/persons was used to apply the tape. The Yoshida (2007) study did not have a taped placebo group nor were the evaluators shielded from the taped subjects. (1) Cools (2002) found no significant differences in muscle activity in the trapezius and the serratus anterior muscle resulting from the application of the tape. They did conclude proprioceptive influences due to tape application that may explain a positive effect of the tape on functional shoulder performance. (3) In a round table discussion, Konin (2010) discusses the uses and application of kinesiotaping with 4 clinicians. (5)  The general consensus was that kinesiotaping had great results in managing acute inflammatory responses, postural retraining, and repetitive stress injuries. Halseth (2003) evaluated the use of Kinesio tape as a means to enhance ankle proprioception. Reproduction of joint position sense was measured in thirty subjects while they were blindfolded and wearing headphones playing white noise. No significant differences were measured between the taped ankles vs the non-taped ankles. (6)

Andrew Foehrkolb

(1)   Yoshida,A., Kahanov,L., (2007). The effect of kinesio tapping on lower trunk range of motions. Research in Sports Medicine, 15; 103-112. DOI:10.1080/15438620701405206

(2)   Merino,R,. Fernandez,E,. Iglesias, P,. Mayorga,D,. (2011) The effect of Kinesio taping on calf’s injuries prevention in triathletes during competition. Pilot experience. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise.6(2) 305-308. DOI:10.4100/jhse.2011.62.10

(3)   Cools, A. M., Witvrouw, E. E., Danneels, L. A., & Cambier, D. C. (2002). Does taping influence electromyographic muscle activity in the scapular rotators in healthy shoulders?. Manual Therapy, 7(3), 154-162

(4)  Kase, K.,  Hashimoto, T,.  (2005) Changes in the volume of peripheral blood flow by using kinesio tape.

       (5)    Konin,J.,(2010).Kinesiotaping. Athletic Training and Sports Health Care, 2(6), 258-259

      (6)   Halseth, T., McChesney, J,. DeBeliso, M,. Vaughn, R,. Lein, J,. (2003) THE EFFECTS OF KINESIO       TAPING ON PROPRIOCEPTION AT THE ANKLE. Research in Sports Medicine, 15:103-112 DOI:10.1080/1543862701405206

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