Kinesiology tape has been growing in popularity as a rehabilitation tool for physical therapists, coaches, trainers and athletes alike.

Kinesiology tape is used after musculoskeletal injuries because it’s been shown to reduce pain up to one week compared to minimal interventions. Some have suggested that kinesiology tape improves blood flow, which is thought to then decrease lymphatic pressure and increase interstitial space, thus reducing pain; however, the mechanism behind kinesiology tape remains unclear.

Some use kinesiology tape with the intention of reducing swelling and decreasing inflammation; however, research has not validated these claims.

kinesiology tape effects blood flow

Study finds “kinesiology tape modestly increases skin blood flow”

A recent study by the Journal of Performance Health Research recently found that there is indeed increased blood flow to the skin where kinesiology tape is applied.

Other findings of this study included:

  • Kinesiology tape tension didn’t make a significant difference in blood flow.
  • Convolutions, (hills and valleys created on the skin by the tape) did not affect the outcome.

Interestingly, this study found there’s little difference made in how the tape is applied – in both tension and convolutions.

TheraBand Kinesiology Tape has hexagonal indicator guides within the tape’s design, which allows the individual using it to apply 0%, 25%, 50%, and 100% relative tension. The study found there was an overall increase in blood flow regardless of the relative tension and how the tape was arranged on the body.

What does this mean? While the study showed an increase in skin blood flow, it didn’t measure blood flow of the subcutaneous tissues; so we can’t make conclusions about the mechanism behind kinesiology tape below the skin. But it also sheds some doubt on the role of convolutions in increasing interstitial space and resultant blood flow.

Though this study found no difference in blood flow when different convolutions and tensions were applied, clinicians may apply kinesiology tape in a manner that results in desired therapeutic outcome. Other factors to consider when applying differing convolutions and tensions of kinesiology tape include reducing pain, increasing stability, and supporting injuries with minimal movement restriction.

To check out the entire study on kinesiology tape and increased blood flow you can read the full article now or see the whole Journal here. This article was based on a study originally published in the Journal of Performance Health Research written by Daniel H. Craighead and colleagues from Penn State University.

 

Resources:
Mostafavifar, M., Wertz, J. and Borchers, J. (2012). A Systematic Review of the Effectiveness of Kinesio Taping for Musculoskeletal Injury. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 40(4), pp.33-40. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23306413

Christensen, Jen. (2017). Kinesio tape: The latest Olympic accessory – CNN. [online] CNN. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/10/health/olympics-kinesio-tape/index.html [Accessed 5 Sep. 2017]. http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/10/health/olympics-kinesio-tape/index.html

Craighead DH, Alexander LM 2017. Kinesiology tape modestly increases skin blood flow regardless of tape application technique. J Perform Health. 1(1): 72-78.

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