Athletic trainers have been using various forms of tape for decades in their efforts to treat athletes’ injuries. A relatively new type of tape called KinesioTape made a major impression on athletes and the general public when we saw volleyball star Kerri Walsh wearing this tape during the 2008 summer Olympics. Since then, there still has been very little research in the medical community on this tape.
We know that immobilization helps to heal an injury. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation, or the RICE protocol, has been implemented by trainers and sports physicians for many years. It makes intuitive sense that limiting joint or muscle movement during injury would help to alleviate pain and allow an injured structure to heal faster. This also involves modification of activity, of course. But KinesioTape is quite different. It is a strong, stretchy type of tape that allows for movement. In fact, one might argue that is promotes movement when applied. Theories exist on the mechanism of action of this tape. First, it must be applied correctly. There are certification classes for this taping technique. When applied, the tape supports the muscles and the skin to promote blood flow and injury recovery.
A recent study in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy (April 2012) showed that patients with neck injuries had similar responses to cervical spine manipulation and KinesioTaping technique in regards to pain relief and range of motion.
In a 2012 study, neurosurgeons operating in the hospital had significant reduction in neck and back pain with application of KinesioTape.
At Performance Spine & Sports Medicine, we use this taping technique to treat patients with various musculoskeletal injuries. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to have successful outcomes with KinesioTape. We have seen reduction in pain with the application of KinesioTape for patients suffering from neck pain, low back pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain, wrist pain, hip pain, knee pain, ankle pain, and much more. The application is fast and painless. The tape typically will stay in place for several days and one can shower with the tape on. When it starts to fall off, you simply peel it off. It can be reapplied as often as necessary, until the acute injury is healed.
The important take home points are this:
1. Kinesiotape is safe.
2. Application is non-painful.
3. The limited studies that exist have shown positive results in regards to reduction in pain.
Unfortunately, KinesioTape will not make you stronger. Several studies have looked at this and none have shown improvements in strength. Therefore, application of KinesioTape for healthy athletes is likely to be of no benefit for sports performance.
If you have any questions or would like to arrange a consultation with one of our expert providers, call 609-588-8600. Please also peruse our video library under the Video Lectures tab.