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By Kateri Kane PT, DPT

So how many of you watched the 2008 Beijing Olympics or the 2012 London Olympics? If you were watching, chances are you saw a good amount of “colored tape” on several of the athletes competing in the games. This “colored tape” is called Kinesio Tape. So now you know what it is called, but what exactly is it and what does it do?

Kinesio Taping was developed by Dr. Kenzo Kase in Japan in the 1970’s. “It is claimed that KT supports injured muscles and joints and helps relieve pain by lifting the skin and allowing improved blood and lymph flow” (Williams). According to the Kinesio Taping® website “The Kinesio Taping® Method is applied over muscles to reduce pain and inflammation, relax overused or tired muscles, and support muscles in movement on a 24-hour-a-day basis.” There are a multitude of uses for Kinesio Tape including mechanical, lymphatic, ligament/tendon, fascia, space, and functional correctional techniques. This taping method can be used alongside other modalities including cryotherapy, hydrotherapy, massage therapy, and electrical stimulation; however, this technique should not be utilized with thermotherapy due to the fact that the adhesive in the tape is heat activated and will therefore stick stronger when heated. This would make removal more painful.

Kinesio Taping involves two techniques. The first technique gives support to the muscles while allowing full range of motion at the joints. This enables an individual to participate in physical activity with functional assistance. The second technique prevents overuse and over contraction. This second technique also facilitates lymph flow 24 hours a day and is used primarily in the acute stages of rehab.

Now you have an idea of what the tape does, but does it work? Several research studies have been performed with a large spectrum of injury types and therapeutic usages of Kinesio Tape. Looking at individual studies, you will find that it has been effective in increasing peripheral blood flow, reducing edema, decreasing pain in conditions including patellofemoral syndrome and shoulder pain, assisting with hemiplegia related to stroke, assisting in correction of congenital torticollis, and several other conditions. You can review these individual articles in the resources below. Despite the benefits listed in these individual studies, meta-analysis and systematic reviews of the literature could not conclusively state that this taping technique was more beneficial than other modalities or therapeutic techniques. The probable reason for this inconclusive result is lack of research that meets the appropriate criteria to include in a meta-analysis or systematic review. As more research is performed, more conclusive evidence can be gathered. As of now, the tape does not appear to have many adverse side effects and does not disrupt healing when utilized appropriately. It is utilized by healthcare personnel from PTs, ATCs, OTs, DCs, MTs, to MDs and the anecdotal evidence along with several research articles speak in its favor.

Feel free to review the resources listed for more information on Kinesio Taping. If you have any questions on this topic or any others in which you are interested feel free to leave any questions, comments, or suggestions. Thank you for reading and stay active.

Resources:

Kinesio Association 1998-2010

IngentaConnect

Informa Healthcare

Progress.com

Kinsiologytapeinfo.com

Boston Body Worker

Kinesiotaping.com

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Disclaimer:  The information in this medical library is intended for informational and educational purposes only and in no way should be taken to be the provision or practice of physical therapy, medical, or professional healthcare advice or services. The information should not be considered complete or exhaustive and should not be used for diagnostic or treatment purposes without first consulting with your physical therapist, physician or other healthcare provider. The owners of this website accept no responsibility for the misuse of information contained within this website.