The Kinesio Coloured Tape Debate

During the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, you may have wondered why everybody seemed to be covered in coloured tape.  Kinesio Tape is a recently popular treatment for sporting injuries, but the important question is: does it work?
Kinesio Tape has only just hit mainstream media, but it has been around for over 25 years. The theory is that when placed over dysfunctional areas, the elasticity of the tape lifts the layers of skin, helping to reduce pain, muscle tension and increases blood flow – aiding injury management. Whereas normal wraps are stiff and bulky, K-Tape’s stretchiness moves with the body and doesn’t limit an athlete’s performance.

Sounds great – why the debate?

As with all medical treatments, there are critics. There is little high quality evidence into the effectiveness of the tape, and a lot of this evidence is biased with small sample groups.
Studies have, however, suggested that Kinesio Tape can reduce pain levels in leg muscles in triathletes and duathletes, can alter timing activation of muscles and aid swelling management.
Kinesio Tape is in the early stages of clinical trials and has not been definitively proven or disproven. In physiotherapy, there are many treatments that work, but are not yet fully understood, and in my opinion this will be the same for K-Tape.
As a physiotherapist, my motive is to help my clients however possible. I have conducted studies on myself and my clients and have found good results, particularly in swelling management. I often use mayofascial release with my clients, which makes Kinesio Tape a brilliant adjunct. Due to my interest I am also conducting research into K-Tape for my Master’s in Sports Physiotherapy.
Really, the debate surrounding K-Tape will continue for a long time yet: but if it works for you, then use it. Whatever the effect, even if it cannot be fully explained, I would support its use. I will continue to use it as part of physiotherapy treatment for people I feel would benefit from it. However, the tape is not a magical cure and should only be used alongside other treatments following full assessment by a qualified physiotherapist.
If you would like to find out more about K-Tape or physiotherapy, contact me on 07758 220980 or