Can we benefit from using kinesiology tapes ?
In the past few years, Kinesiology tapes reached large awareness. Many athletes, runners, cyclists, and even climbers use kinesiology tapes to relieve pains in knees, hamstrings, back, shoulders and more. But although its popularity, there are questions whether there is an actual benefit from it. Let’s see what is the latest data and who can actually benefit from using kinesiology tapes.
What is kinesiology tape
Dr. Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor, developed the tape back then in the 1970s. This elastic tape acts as a therapeutic modality to enhance the function of different tissues in the body. This thin stretchy, elastic cotton strip with adhesive aim to benefit a wide variety of musculoskeletal and sports injuries and inflammatory conditions. The first big release to the world happened during 1988 Olympic games in Japan.
How does kinesiology tapes work?
In short, Kinesiology tape works by creating a space between the muscles tissues and skin. Allowing draining fluids from the treated area. The tape lifts the skin away from the underlying tissue. This happens due to the adhesion between skin and tape. This assumes to lead to a decrease in inflammation. It also helps reducing pressure while enabling a more effective flow of blood and lymphatic fluid in and out the target area.
The tape can be applied over and around an injured joint, muscle or tendon to reduce swelling and prevent further complications.
The claimed benefits of kinesiology taping
According to kinesiology, taping can achieve a variety of benefits for many types of pains in different body areas, preventing and treating injuries and improving performance.
The tape aims to assist for many body movements which require repetitive movements, which accompanied with pain due to inflammation and overuse. Also, it claims to help in cases of joint pains due to arthritis, osteoarthritis and related conditions.
What data we have from the research
The website of the original Dr. Kenzo brand has a long list of published articles, showing the benefits of using kinesiology tapes. Although this long list, external independent researches so far showed questionable data to back this or showed selected benefits only.
There is no solid evidence that kinesiology tape can improve athletic performance. However, studies have found taping has had measurable therapeutic benefits alongside other physical therapies.
A research conducted by Dr. Jennifer C Reneker, of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, concluded that there is a lack of compelling evidence to support the use of kinesiology tape to enhance the sports performance abilities. But, this is not in contradiction to the possibility to perform better as like there is no pain or reduced pain. Using the tape can ease the pain, so obviously you are likely to overcome the pain and perform better.
The Physician And Sports-medicine Journal published in 2016 an article about kinesiology. The research concluded that kinesiology taping could be more effective than naproxen anti-inflammatory plus physical therapy for knee pains.
Hence, the data is somehow vague and non-conclusive.
This doesn’t mean necessarily that kinesiology taping doesn’t work. It might mean that we need to conduct more controlled and unbiased researches. Also, researches should better analyze the positive feedback from athletes.
There are positive testimonies of professional and unprofessional athletes. It also means to have good learning and implementing the right methods for the researches.
We can see there are cases in which researches point for the benefit of using kinesiology tape.
If the intention is to reduce pain in knees, shoulders and other areas during the activity itself, or as a complementary treatment, there are indications benefits from taping. If you assume to get superpowers for performance or as fast cure, you are looking the wrong place.
As an example to conclude this, let’s say have knee or shoulder pain. only treating by taping, probably won’t yield the necessary improvement. If the taping is part of a complete process of strengthening the treated area, having the right physiotherapy and, taking care of the inflammation, more chances the taping will positively add to the treatment.
Nowadays kinesiology tapes are relatively cheap health accessory. Especially compared to the traditional treatments for muscles and joints pains. Therefore it seems there is a good incentive to try it and judge it yourself as part of systematic health maintenance and treatment.
It’s also important to understand that there are specific ways that the tape needs to be applied to the body to produce a positive therapeutic effect.
Related read: The importance of core training, for body’s strengths and avoiding injuries.
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