Kinesiology taping has gained popularity among athletes and trainers, but it isn’t without its skeptics. So how does taping really work? There are 3 main proposed effects of kinesiology tape: 1. decrease pain, 2. tissue decompression, and 3. neurosensory input to improve body awareness.
Wu et. al. looked into the kinesiology taping method and found evidence to support the immediate effects of mechanical decompression on blood and lymph circulation. Other studies have supported that there is a significant elevation and separation of fascial layers of skin and its underlying tissue. The increase in blood and lymph flow aides in reduction of swelling and aids in recovery post-injury. This effect additionally allows for pressure relief, corresponding to less pain as pressure is relieved from compressed free nerve endings.
An additional effect of taping is on joint position sense, or proprioception. Seo et. al. looking into effects of taping on adults who have experienced ankle sprains and have found improvement of joint position sense with application of the tape. Callaghan et. al. used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate whether taping had any influence on brain activity and found that use of tape while performing a task resulted in increased brain activation in regions responsible for control of motor movement. Kinesiology taping can also provide a facilitation or inhibition effect for muscle contraction as it provides a stimulus for specific cells in the muscle responsible for sensing muscle tension. This regulates muscle function, promoting better biomechanics and potentially preventing future injury. As such, the use of kinesiology tape could be used as an adjunct to treatment of a wide variety of issues including ankle sprains, patellofemoral pain syndrome, and shoulder impingement.
Wu WT, Hong CZ, Chou LW. The Kinesio Taping Method for Myofascial Pain Control. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:950519.
Seo HD, Kim MY, Choi JE, et al. Effects of Kinesio taping on joint position sense of the ankle. J Phys Ther Sci. 2016;28(4):1158-60.
Callaghan MJ et al… Effects of patellar taping on brain activity during knee joint proprioception tests using functional magnetic resonance imaging… Physical Therapy… 2012; 92(6): 821-830.