The facts about ki­ne­sio tap­ing By Danny Wray of Physio Ef­fect

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - MIND & BODY -

KI­NE­SIO tap­ing is a com­monly used form of sup­port tap­ing ap­plied to the mus­cles and joints of the body. There’s a good chance you will have seen this brightly-coloured tape on a friend or col­league or through its wide use across many sports in­clud­ing foot­ball, ten­nis and swim­ming. Tape is nor­mally ap­plied by a trained health and fit­ness pro­fes­sional and can stay in place any­thing from 24 hours up to one week. The tape can stay in place af­ter bathing or swim­ming and its breath­able elas­tic prop­er­ties mean it is gen­er­ally well tol­er­ated by the skin.

The the­ory be­hind ki­ne­sio tap­ing sug­gests that it works via its unique elas­tic prop­er­ties lift­ing the skin to im­prove fluid move­ment and al­le­vi­ate pain. A sug­gested mech­a­nism of how this works is the al­le­vi­a­tion of pres­sure on pain re­cep­tors in­ter­rupt­ing the nor­mal trans­mis­sion of pain sig­nals to the spinal cord. Other pop­u­lar no­tions sug­gest that ap­pli­ca­tion of ki­ne­sio tape can help stim­u­late and strengthen a weak­ened mus­cle or re­lax and re­lease a stiff or tight­ened mus­cle, de­pend­ing on the level of ten­sion ap­plied to the tape. It may also of­fer sup­port and re­stric­tion of move­ment when this is re­quired as part of treat­ing in­jured tis­sues or joints.

What’s the ev­i­dence?

As phys­io­ther­a­pists and health pro­fes­sion­als it is cen­tral to good prac­tice that we seek out solid ev­i­dence to sup­port the use of any ther­apy or treat­ment. Ki­ne­sio tap­ing falls al­most en­tirely into a cat­e­gory of lit­tle to no hard sci­en­tific ev­i­dence sup­port­ing its use. There have been nu­mer­ous stud­ies and sys­tem­atic re­views of the ev­i­dence that con­clude that ki­ne­sio tap­ing of­fers lit­tle to no clin­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fit. It ap­pears most of the ev­i­dence and pos­i­tive re­views from pa­tients and health pro­fes­sion­als to sup­port ki­ne­sio tap­ing are anec­do­tal or based on sin­gle case re­ports or small sam­ples.

Should I use ki­ne­sio tap­ing?

De­spite the lack of ev­i­dence for its use the spread of ki­ne­sio tap­ing through­out health and sport prac­tices does not ap­pear to be wan­ing. As a phys­io­ther­a­pist with more than 10 years in clin­i­cal prac­tice I have been of­fi­cially trained and cer­ti­fied as a ki­ne­sio tape prac­ti­tioner and while I recog­nise the lack of hard clin­i­cal ev­i­dence, I do still have a place for us­ing ki­ne­sio tap­ing in my prac­tice.

There is no clear ev­i­dence that there is any clin­i­cal risk in us­ing ki­ne­sio tap­ing and anec­do­tally I have had many pa­tients re­port a sense of sup­port or re­lief as­so­ci­ated with the tape ap­pli­ca­tion. There may well be an el­e­ment of placebo ef­fect here but as long as that ef­fect is pos­i­tive and the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits or lack thereof have been openly and re­al­is­ti­cally ex­plained to pa­tients, then I see no is­sue with ki­ne­sio tape use as part of a big­ger clin­i­cal pic­ture.

The use of ki­ne­sio tap­ing should not be con­sid­ered as a com­plete treat­ment for any in­jury or con­di­tion. Ki­ne­sio tap­ing should be con­sid­ered as one as­pect of treat­ment and any prac­ti­tioner us­ing it should be able to pro­vide a ra­tio­nale for do­ing so, even if this comes down to per­sonal clin­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence over spe­cific ev­i­dence. Ki­ne­sio tap­ing should be an ad­junct to sup­port a full treat­ment and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion plan based on care­ful, ev­i­dence-based clin­i­cal as­sess­ment.

Ki­ne­sio tap­ing ap­pli­ca­tion for shoul­der sup­port

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