Is Kinesio Tape an Effective Method of Injury Management?

Kinesio taped knee

Over the past several years, many athletes are wearing colourful Kinesio tape on different parts of their body for injury management. I have wondered about the effectiveness of this treatment.

Anatomy

Based on the physiology of injury repair, I can’t make sense of the benefits. However, having an open mind about the advances in science, I decided to research if evidence supports the use of skin tapes for injuries.

Please note; there is a clear distinction between the use of tape, such as athletic adhesive tape to an injured ankle, and the tapes applied to the skin, such as Kinesio tape.

Research

After researching several studies that evaluated the use of skin taping, there is no scientific evidence of significant benefit. However, if we look at the physiology suggested by using Kinesio Tape, it’s claimed there is increased proprioception (the concept of knowing where your body is in space) that is beneficial.

Unfortunately, this is the only benefit noted when it comes to injury management with Kinesio Tape.

How does Kinesio tape work

Proponents of Kiniseo Tape report that “lifting” of the skin, as you would see if you pinched the skin on the back of your hand is an advantage using this method. Consequently, this claimed benefit of lifting, is creating a negative pressure allowing blood and lymphatic vessels to open, increasing circulation of both fluids.

However, fundamental understanding of fluid dynamics and tissue pressure concludes that negative pressure causing an increase of fluid accumulation is undesirable, since it could allow injured tissues to be decompressed and delay the repair process.

How muscles work

Consider this example: The muscles and tendons in our bodies are made of fibres, like a broom is made of multiple sticks.  When the sticks are separated, they are not as strong as when they are compressed together. Similarly, in the body, keeping repairing tissues close together will decrease fluid accumulation and improve the healing process.

Another way to understand this is how a gaping cut on your skin will heal faster if the wound is stuck together versus being left open. The same theory applies to our injured muscles. Compressing them gives them the potential to be stronger and heal faster. Whereas, Kiniseo tape does the opposite effect by pulling them apart, causing a possible increase in swelling and slowing recovery process.Full Knee Compression Sleeve Teal

Benefits

The benefit of wearing a compression sleeve compared to applying Kiniseo Tape is clear, the compression will help to reduce swelling and compress the damaged tissues so they have the potential to be stronger, consequently increasing proprioception as well.

Purely decorative

There is no disputing that the colourful patterns seen with the use of Kinesio Tape is quite decorative. Fortunately, if you’re looking to make a fashion statement, in addition to effectively treating their injuries, Body Helix compression wraps are available in a variety of colours. To learn more about compression and how it could help you treat your injury, click here.

Addendum

I have been contacted by physical therapists who use Kinesio Tape or similar products, and are convinced they are beneficial.

Whilst we base our analysis on science, absence of proof is not proof of absence and it’s possible that the science is incorrect.

Let me know what you think.

1.http://www.journalofphysiotherapy.com/article/S1836-9553(14)00009-5/abstract?cc=y=, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22124445, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23306413

 

About the Author:
Thomas E. Parker, MD, Chief Science Officer of Body Helix, is a retired physician, with a practice specialty of Internal Medicine.

He attended The Ohio State University College of Medicine and completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at Duke University Medical Center. Parker received the distinction of “Top Doctor” in Charlotte Magazine in 2011, 2012, and 2014.

In 2008, Parker became involved in Body Helix as a founding member and Chief Science Officer with the responsibility of overseeing product development, safety and guiding marketing materials to reflect scientifically accurate claims.

2 thoughts on “Is Kinesio Tape an Effective Method of Injury Management?

  1. Dennis Nielson says:

    I am an 82 year old tennis player, who continues to play both doubles and singles on a Category 1 and 2 level. I wonder if you are missing one of the biggest reasons for wearing the compression wraps? I have been wearing similar wraps for at least 20+ years. I have found that if I have or get a pain, I immediately put a wrap on. This has resulted in the pain not getting worse but in the overwhelming cases of going away. The reason, in my opinion, is the HEAT generated around the joint. I have had 3 wraps on my limbs at once. I have been, I’m sure, a leading proponent in the use of these for keeping pain from causing future. I have worn on occasion an ankle, calf, knee, thigh, back, wrist and elbow wrap, all of which I carry in my bag. I one match I felt a twinge in my butt on the 3rd point, and thought ‘what to do now?’ So I put one on my thigh on the side of the pain and amazingly, it worked as I had no further trouble and went on to beat a worthy opponent. Anyhow, I am a believer in these neoprene wraps and how they have made my pursuit of competitive tennis a pleasant reality.

  2. Kim E says:

    A frequent visitor of the dreaded tennis elbow. The last episode lasted almost a year! After much rest and better mechanics, the tennis elbow finally healed. However, 3-4 yrs later, after some overuse and some heavy serve practices, the tennis elbow was worse than ever. I knew a friend who swore by her compression wrap. I had used everything on the market, including kinesiology tape, guards, various elbow wraps, etc She told me she used the body helix. I had the elbow sleeve on for two days and my tennis elbow is already 50% better. I had to get used to it as the pain was so bad, any compression was painful but after about 30 minutes, I noticed the pain subsiding. I could not even pick up a glass of ice water without pain. I can’t wait to try it on the court in a day or so. Will keep you posted. Already a fan!

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