Why does Kinesiology taping continue to gain public appeal?
Kinesiology tape made an unforgettable debut on famous athletes at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Today, the elastic therapeutic tape is worn by athletes worldwide.
The popularity of the tape drives scientific investigations to understand and explain the public’s choice.
Born under the umbrella of Kinesiology, the taping method involves taping over and around muscles to assist and support or prevent over-contraction. The tape itself and its application method are seen as an innovation for athletes and patients for:
• Promoting healing
• Reducing pain
• Improving performance
• Preventing injuries
That’s an impressive list, considering sporting injuries often involve bone, muscle, ligaments, tendons and connective tissues.
How does Kinesiology tape help promote healing and reduce pain?
There are several ways kinesiology taping helps to promote healing and reduce pain. Some are direct, and others are indirect.
Let’s take one example of a direct-to-indirect route.
With proper application over a body region or muscle, kinesiology tape pulls on the skin, creating lift and altering the contour. This lift is a desired result.
The lift forms a space between the skin and underlying connective tissue. The space allows for improved circulation and lymph drainage. When circulation and lymph drainage improves, the direct result is less swelling, and the subsequent and indirect result is less pain.
But, more support is given to the healing process when applying kinesiology taping.
In an experimental setting, albeit on rats, scientists confirmed that applying Kinesiology tape over a controlled soft-tissue injury increased epidermal–dermal distance.
However, the study also observed two more important details: (1) fewer circulating agents known to promote the sensation of pain and inflammation, and (2) the integrity of the skin (dermis) and alignment of collagen fibers was protected (Kafa et al., 2015).
Swelling is a healthy and natural response to an injury. In a sprained ankle, swelling helps to immobilize the limb, protecting it. But sometimes, swelling can last too long, hindering healing. Thus, kinesiology taping can help offset the downsides of swelling.
What are the main physiologic benefits of Kinesiology taping?
Although the kinesiology tape was developed in the late 1970s, the quality of the tape and taping methods have since improved. Hundreds of research articles outline multiple benefits and use cases alongside those improvements. You can check out a few here.
Based on our current knowledge and research, the physiologic benefits of kinesiology taping are becoming more evident. Here is what we know thus far:
1. Increased circulation and lymph drainage
2. Decreased inflammation and swelling
3. Improved posture
4. Muscle support
With proper taping application, patients and athletes can experience additional and subsequent perks when using the tape, such as:
• Less pain and fatigue
• Improved athletic performance
• Faster recovery times
These additional gains may explain why more athletes and patients continue to turn to Kinesiology taping and its growing popularity.
Although personal experience and referral from a colleague are often convincing, we need rigorous testing regarding our health.
A 2023 in-depth analysis of 36 scientific studies revealed Kinesiology taping improves pain and disability (Tran et al., 2023). The result held for any body region (e.g. chest, lower back, neck, face, and knee).
The analyses also showed these improvements are felt within the first five days and can last several weeks.
In line with the article’s conclusion, Kinesiology taping is one of the most effective strategies patients and athletes can include alongside their rehabilitation.
How Kinesiology tape is made and engineered to perform
There is an art and science to engineering the best-performing kinesiology tape from stretch to stickiness. The taping method should not be underestimated, nor should the choice of construction materials to make the tape itself.
We use soap and wear clothes daily. As such, there is a lot of contact between these items and our skin. This is why an informed decision about what our bodies are exposed to is a matter of health and self-care.
Since kinesiology tape is applied to our skin for short and extended periods, depending on whether you use it for performance or recovery, one must ask what ingredients make up the stretch and stickiness.
Spidertech tape, for example, is made of a cotton-elastic blend. Cotton allows the skin to breathe and reduces the risks of rashes.
But even more importantly, the tapes are drug-free and latex-free, making them hypoallergenic.
The high ratio of cotton to elastic is necessary for Kinesiology tape to lift the skin and provide sufficient support to the muscles and joints. So, the tape is less elastic than most people are aware of, which is why the taping method should be equally considered.
PRO TIP: The cutout design helps you properly apply the tape to fit specific body regions. The specially designed cutouts are engineered to give enough but not too much stretch.
Another consideration when applying kinesiology tape to the skin is whether the adhesive is of medical grade.
Spidertech uses a medical-grade 100% acrylic adhesive, and there are additional options for purchasing tape designed for sensitive skin.
On a less serious note, there is a great selection of colors to match your mood too!
- Kafa, N., Citaker, S., Omeroglu, S., Peker, T., Coskun, N., & Diker, S. (2015). Effects of kinesiologic taping on epidermal–dermal distance, pain, edema and inflammation after experimentally induced soft tissue trauma. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 31(8), 556-561. doi:10.3109/09593985.2015.1062943
- Tran, L., Makram, A. M., Makram, O. M., Elfaituri, M. K., Morsy, S., Ghozy, S., . . . Huy, N. T. (2023). Efficacy of kinesio taping compared to other treatment modalities in musculoskeletal disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Research in Sports Medicine, 31(4), 416-439. doi:10.1080/15438627.2021.1989432