KT tape is all the rage. You see it on Olympians, sport players, and even on the average individual. It’s used commonly in the PT clinics as well. That was when I was first introduced to the tape. My boss believed it to to truly benefit the patient on top of exercises, modalities and manual work. Everyone that I have used it on seemed to love it but is it really doing anything? I mean there is KT tape, RockTape, muscle tape, and I am sure a ton more different brands out there so there must be something thats working for it to be in such demand right?
I ended up trying it on myself before researching. I always have shin splint pain in my right lower leg when I run so I taped myself up the next time I set out. I felt no difference. The pain was still there and it started acting up around the same time milage wise it normally would. I tried an achilles taping on the other leg the next time I ran to see if that made any difference, nada. So I moved up to my knees. I taped myself for patellofemoral pain, and taped my knee in a way where I was trying to stabilize my patella. I was shocked to notice that I felt some minor improvements and not as much pain in my knees after my run.
So great, 1 out of 3 tapes and I finally noticed something. But again is there any research to show that it truly benefits a runner? You can look into research for muscle function, range of motion, pain, etc. I looked into some studies regarding wearing the tape to help reduce pain levels and this is what I found.
In a randomized, double blind study conducted to determine the acute effects of kinesio taping on pain, strength, joint position sense and balance in patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome it was found that the application of tape does NOT have any effect on decreasing pain, increasing strength and a sense of balance in patients. Another study was done to investigate the effect of kinesio tape on hop distance, pain, and motoneuronal excitability in healthy people and people with Achilles tendinopathy. It was found that Kinesio tape had no effect on hop distance, pain, or motoneuronal excitability in people with achilles tendonitis.I will say that both study groups only used those suffering from these pains. They had nothing to do with runners. So there is that… One study that caught my eye was to examine the effect of kinesio tape immediately after its application and after a duathlon competition on calf pain and the ankle range of motion in duathletes. In short, applying the kinesio tape on the calf seems to immediately increase ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, but not after a duathlon competition. Applying the kinesio tape on the calf does not reduce muscle pain immediately or after a duathlon competition, but it appears to control an increase in pain.
I did look at more studies than just the three above but the thing is there are different ways to tape each muscle/joint. Are you crossing a joint? Are you trying to provide more stability and support to a joint? Or are you just taping along the muscle in hopes of facilitating or inhibiting the muscle? How much tension are you applying? Are you looking at runners, weight lifters, weekend warriors? All these factors could potentially change the outcome of these studies.
Regardless of what research says some people truly love KT tape and swear by it. I’m not sure if I have a biased opinion because I work in the world of sports medicine and it was something that my professors and mentors never believed in or used, or it could be because I tried it on a few different areas and did not notice anything miraculous take place. Either way if you like it and it works for you that’s awesome and I almost wish that happened to me! It seems there are some studies out there that focus a bit more on athletes so if you are doing some of your own research definitely look at those more so than the ‘average person’ studies.
Happy Running! xx