In 2008 Kinesio tape (K tape) was donated to 58 countries for use during the Olympic Games. By the 2016 Olympic Games it was hard to miss; brightly coloured strips of tape decorating the arms, legs and torsos of many high profile athletes. With this exposure, the use of K tape has become increasingly popular amongst the general population. The question must be asked – does it really work?
In a nutshell, K tape is brightly coloured, stretchy tape that is designed to stick to the skin. Proponents of K tape claim the adhe- sive backing on the tape lifts the skin, creating channels of less pressure. They claim it increases blood flow and lymphatic drain- age and reduces pressure on nerves, muscles, tendons, stimulates mechano-recep- tors, improves sporting performance and decreases swelling and pain after injury.
The inconvenient truth for any K tape believer is that for every research paper that shows a positive effect there is another one that shows little or no effect. Numer- ous systematic reviews have analysed the research data and none have reached any firm conclusions.
Many therapists will argue; if the athlete thinks it helps with pain and performance why not use it? I do not agree. If pain is helped by the use of K tape then it is unlikely there was significant tissue damage in the first place. In this case, tape isn’t needed and shouldn’t be used as a crutch.
Sure, an athlete may feel better after putting some tape on but I prefer the athlete to get better and back to sport by moving without fear.
For the fitness of you.