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Putting on the Stripes To Ease Pain: Kinesio Tape

February 20, 2013

Mario Balotelli

It’s hard to turn on the TV to watch sports these days and not see the masses of fancy, bright-coloured strips of tape running up and down legs and arms. However the fact is, for something that seems so popular with elite athletes, most people don’t have a clue what it is and what it’s supposed to do! Is this new wave of eccentric, vivid tape the latest in sports science ready to take athletes to the next level or is it another fashion fad at top of the health fitness marketing chain?

Known as ‘Kinesio’ Tape, this device is a strong, elasticized tape that was designed by Japanese chiropractor Dr Kenzo Kase more that 30 years ago. Dr Kase developed Kinesio Tape on the basis that the application of tape replicated beneficial manual therapy techniques such as massage and joint mobilization. The tape differs from the traditional rigid strapping tape in that it doesn’t restrict movement. Kinesio tape and stretch and contract which will restrict the incorrect movements but allow correct movements. It allows the athlete to continue training longer through injuries as their biomechanics have been corrected. Kase argues that Kinesio Tape also lifts the top layer of the skin off the muscle fascia which enables better blood flow between the dermis and epidermis.

However, there is no clinically meaningful evidence as yet to support the use of Kinesio Tape. Studies have shown some improvement in shoulder and neck pain however the quality of the studies were questioned. If no other benefit, Kinesio Tape improves psychological performance. Athletes feel better prepared and better supported. Like any clinical treatment, every athlete is different so what works for some may not work for others. Kinesio Tape is a treatment that needs to work in conjunction with other therapies and shouldn’t mask the need for strength and flexibility exercises. There are still more studies need to assess the efficacy of the new innovation but one thing is for sure; Kinesio Tape is taking fashion to the next level!

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