I hear, “there’s not a lot of research on kinesiology tape” all the time, but let’s be clear; there is a LOT of research… in fact, there are over 350 published studies in journals! However, there is a lack of good research (valid and reliable results with little bias), and even less research on clinical populations.
That’s the problem: a lack of true patient population studies. Sometimes I hear people say, “the studies show that kinesiology tape doesn’t do anything.” On the other hand, clinicians who tape regularly will tell you they’ve seen it work. So where’s the disconnect?
Kinesiology taping research you can trust
The studies that show no effect are usually done on healthy populations. And it’s hard to rule out a placebo effect, even with so-called placebo taping, when there’s still tape applied to the skin. Furthermore, some studies evaluate outcomes that aren’t relevant to what kinesiology tape can actually do (although we still have a lot to learn about its mechanism of action).
That’s why we had six studies on TheraBand Kinesiology Tape in clinical populations at TRAC 2016, our annual research meeting of the Performance Health Scientific Advisory Committee. Here’s a recap of the results:
Dr. Barton Bishop found progressively increasing kinesiology tape tension each week during shoulder rehab (0 > 25% > 50% > 75%) did not affect pain or functional outcomes. 1
Tape applied 48 hours after throwing-induced DOMS significantly decreased pain and increased ROM compared to a non-tape condition, but did not affect performance according to research from Andre Labbe PT. 2
Dr. Jeff Forman reported that kinesiology tape did not provide additional benefit in pain, ROM or posture after 24 hours when added to neck massage. 3 However, Dr. Jay Greenstein found kinesiology tape significantly decreased pain when combined with cervical manipulation compared to manipulation alone. 4
Older Adult Fall Risk
Dr. Michael Rogers found kinesiology tape improved dynamic surface balance (but not stable surfaces) when applied to the lower leg of women with history of falling.5
Dr. Leo Wang reported that kinesiology tape in addition to physical therapy for 4 weeks resulted in significantly less pain and swelling, as well as better function compared to PT alone in patients with chronic regional pain syndrome (aka RSD). 6
You may not find each of these ‘positive’ findings supporting the use of kinesiology tape. However, I find positive benefit in negative outcomes: it tells us “what doesn’t work” so we don’t waste time on ineffective interventions.
I’m convinced there’s no benefit to using kinesiology tape in athletes or in healthy non-painful populations. So kinesiology taping studies in non-clinical populations and irrelevant outcomes do nothing for me. And no matter the outcome of a study in a clinical population (positive or negative), we gain valuable information from the results!
1Bishop BN et al. Tension of Theraband® Kinesiology Tape on Shoulder Pain (Abstract). 2016. J Performance Health : 1(1):69
2Labbe A et al. The effect of kinesiology tape following rotator cuff stress (Abstract). 2016. J Performance Health : 1(1):70
3Forman J et al. Effects of massage and Kinesiology Tape on neck pain, range of motion, and forward head posture in individuals with non-specific neck and shoulder pain (Abstract). 2016. J Performance Health : 1(1):71
4Greenstein J et al. The effect of TheraBand® Kinesiology Tape on post-manipulation pain and range of motion (Abstract). 2016. J Performance Health : 1(1):71-2
5Rogers M. Effects of Kinesiology Tape on Static Balance in Older Women at Risk for Falls (Abstract). 2016. J Performance Health : 1(1):72-3
6Wang L et al. Effects of Kinesiology Taping on Post-stroke Patients with Type 1 Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: A Randomized Control Trial (Abstract). 2016. J Performance Health : 1(1):73
About TRAC: The Performance Health Scientific Advisory Committee meets at the annual TRAC meeting to present their research on Performance Health Products