Kinesiology tape continues to be a popular method to attempt pain relief in rehabilitation and recovery. While it’s been shown effective for short-term pain relief, the mechanism behind the pain relief remains unclear… although it’s likely due to afferent input into the skin.
Researchers at Sport and Spine Rehab in Washington DC evaluated the adhesive properties of TheraBand® Kinesiology Tape after applying Biofreeze® topical analgesic. “We’ve been spraying Biofreeze on kinesiology tape for several years successfully and wanted to see if it affected the tape adhesion. If the tape doesn’t stay on the skin, it’s essentially useless,” said TRAC member Dr. Barton Bishop.
Topical analgesics vs. kinesiology tape adhesion
The researchers previously found that TheraBand Kinesiology Tape provides significantly better adhesion than its leading competitors. To continue exploring the merits of this data, they performed two studies on the adhesion and performance of TheraBand Kinesiology Tape with topical application of Biofreeze.
In the first study1, they applied TheraBand Kinesiology Tape to only one side of subjects’ lower back at 25% tension and sprayed Biofreeze on the tape and non-taped side four times a day for three days. They found that the tape adhesion had decreased to an average of 76% adhesion at 3 days compared to 83% at 3 days in their previous study. There was no difference in irritation, cooling sensation or satisfaction between the taped and un-taped sides.
In their second study2, the researchers compared TheraBand Kinesiology Tape applied with Biofreeze to RockTape applied with RockSauce Chill (another menthol-based topical analgesic). “We wanted to see which combination of products performed best for our patients,” said TRAC member Dr. Jay Greenstein. They applied both conditions to 20 healthy subjects for three days, separated by three weeks between the different applications for a ‘wash-out’ period.
The researchers found similar adherence (74 and 79%) for similar patient satisfaction; however, subjects reported greater sensation with TheraBand Kinesiology Tape and Biofreeze at 15, 30, and 60 minutes after application compared to the RockTape application. Further research is needed to determine the clinical implication of applying kinesiology tape and topical analgesics.
1Bishop BN et al. The effect of Biofreeze® on the adhesion and performance of TheraBand® Kinesiology Tape (Abstract). 2016. J Performance Health : 1(1):67-8
2Greenstein J et al. A comparison of adhesion properties and skin sensation between TheraBand® Kinesiology Tape combined with Biofreeze® and RockTape combined with RockSauce Chill (Abstract). 2016. J Performance Health : 1(1):68-9
About TRAC: The Performance Health Scientific Advisory Committee meets at the annual TRAC meeting to present their research on Performance Health Products