Kinesiology Tape or “Ktape” is a useful tool for rehab and performance when it is used in the right ways.
The popularity of the tape and the many applications and uses of it make it difficult to know when if it is truly effective or you should save your $15-20.
For each theory of use, there is a different method of application used when using the tape, varying the amount of stretch of the tape and stretch of the tissue. Careful application of the tape should be taken into consideration based on the goal you are trying to use.
Here is a breakdown of K Tape and when you might want to consider using:
Swelling and Lymphatic Drainage:
Kinesiology Tape companies claim that by “microscopically lifting the skin” circulation and lymphatic drainage can be increased to reduce swelling in injuries. There is some research to support the use of K Tape to reduce swelling in injuries. Acute injuries have an inflammatory period of about 48 hours making this window the ideal time to apply K tape if you are using it to reduce swelling.
Joint Support and Stability:
There is no clinically proven support to the claim that K Tape can support an unstable joint or prevent musculoskeletal injuries to joints. If you are looking for joint support and stability there may be better tape options that offer better prophylactic /preventative support than the K Tape options.
Increased Proprioception and Decreased Pain:
One theory is that by having the tape on the skin and in particular directions with the muscles it increases our proprioception (awareness of your body in space) and may improve muscle firing as a result. As a result of improved proprioception, it is thought that it might affect one’s pain. Take for example anterior knee pain such as jumper’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome. Application of KTape to increase proprioception around the knee and improve muscle firing of the vastus medialis might help the muscle better stabilize the patella, resulting in decreased pain during activity.
It’s difficult for research to prove that K tape provides any true performance enhancement with sport and exercise. Many claim that the performance improvement that individuals experience while using K tape is mostly a “placebo effect”. Essentially, the use of the tape makes a person feel more confident or ready to perform, and that in turn makes them play better. In this case we would not recommend K tape as a guaranteed performance enhancing tool but, it is up to each individual athlete how they feel and whether they feel noticeable difference while using Kinesiology Tape.