KinesioTape-The Evidence

I have received several comments from bloggers that “there is no evidence” regarding the effectiveness of Kinesiology Taping or KinesioTaping Techniques. I would like to share with you some very detailed clinical study outcomes that are present, and copied here, from the SpiderTech website. This post is definitely more clinical in nature, but it can certainly help any interested patient or practitioner in understanding the evidence behind the WHY and HOW of KinesioTaping.

The Clinically Proven Effectiveness of Kinesiology Taping

Taping is widely used in the field of rehabilitation as both a means of treatment and prevention of sports-related injuries. The essential function of most tape is to provide support during movement. Some believe that tape serves to enhance proprioception and, therefore, to reduce the occurrence of injuries. The most commonly used tape applications are done with non-stretch tape. The rationale is to provide protection and support to a joint or a muscle. Utilizing existing stretch tape, investigators have shown clinical improvement in patients with grade III acromioclavicular separations, anterior shoulder impingement, and hemiplegic shoulders. In recent years, kinesiology tape has become increasingly popular as a therapeutic treatment option in North America and Europe. Kinesiology tape was developed in the 1970’s and was engineered to mimic the qualities of human skin. It has roughly the same thickness as the epidermis and can be stretched between 130% and 140% of its resting length longitudinally. The application techniques were developed through the use of applied kinesiology taping, which
logically gave the therapy and material its name. The tape reportedly has several benefits, depending on the amount of stretch applied to the tape during application: (1) to provide a positional stimulus through the skin, (2) to align fascial tissues, (3) to create more space by lifting fascia and soft tissue above the area of pain/inflammation, (4) to provide sensory stimulation to assist or limit motion, and (5) to assist in the removal of edema by directing exudates toward a lymph duct. The clinical information on kinesiology tape suggests improved function, pain, stability, and proprioception in pediatrics and patients with acute patellar dislocation, stroke, ankle and shoulder pain, and trunk dysfunction. The respective information comes from case series and pilot studies, the most important of which are summarized in the following:

In a prospective, randomized, double-blinded, clinical trial using a repeated-measures design Thelen et al. investigated the clinical efficacy of kinesiology tape for shoulder pain. Forty-two subjects clinically diagnosed with rotator cuff tendonitis/impingement were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups: A therapeutic kinesiology tape group or a sham kinesiology tape group. The therapeutic kinesiology tape group showed immediate improvement in pain-free should abduction after tape application. It was concluded that kinesiology tape may be of some assistance to clinicians in improving pain-free active range of motion immediately after tape application for patients with shoulder pain.

In 2009, Fraizer et al. examined in a case series the clinical outcomes for patients with shoulder disorders who were treated with a comprehensive physical therapy program that included kinesiology taping techniques. Five patients
were treated with this taping method among other interventions. All patients demonstrated clinically important improvements in function. The authors concluded that kinesiology taping should be considered as an optional clinical
adjunct in the treatment of shoulder pain as part of a comprehensive physical therapy regimen.

Also in 2007, Yoshida et al. studied the effect of kinesiology tape on lower trunk range of motions. Thirty healthy subjects with no history of lower trunk or back issues participated in the study. Based on their findings, the authors determined that the application of kinesiology tape applied over the lower trunk may increase active lower trunk flexion range of motion.

In 2007, Lie et al. studied the application of kinesiology tape in patients with lateral epicondylitis. The experimental results indicated that wearing kinesiology tape causes the motions of muscle on the ultrasonic images to be enhanced which the authors believe to indicate that the performance of muscle motion was improved.

The effect of taping using kinesiology tape in an acute pediatric rehabilitation setting was investigated in a 2006 pilot study by Yasukawa et al. The purpose of this pilot study was to describe the use of the kinesiology tape for the upper extremity in enhancing functional motor skills in children admitted into an acute rehabilitation program. Fifteen children (4 to 16 years of age), who were receiving rehabilitation services participated in this study. The improvement from pre- to post-taping was statistically significant. These results suggest that kinesiology tape may be associated with improvements in upper-extremity motor control and function in the acute pediatric rehabilitation setting. The authors concluded that the use of kinesiology tape as an adjunct to treatment may assist with the goal-focused occupational therapy treatment during the child’s inpatient stay.

In 2009, Tsai et al. evaluated the effects of a bandage replacement by kinesiology tape in decongestive lymphatic therapy (DLT) for breast-cancer-related lymphoedema. Forty-one patients with unilateral breast-cancer-related lymphoedema for at least 3 months were included in this study. The study results suggested that kinesiology tape could replace the bandage in DLT, and it could be an alternative choice for the breast-cancer-related lymphoedema patient with poor short-stretch bandage compliance after 1-month intervention.

As published in the journal Top Stroke Rehab., Jaraczewska et al. indicated that kinesiology tape could improve the upper extremity function in the adult with hemiplegia. The article discusses various therapeutic methods used in the treatment of stroke patients to achieve a functional upper extremity. The only taping technique for various upper extremity conditions that had previously been described in the literature is the athletic taping technique. The authors concluded that kinesiology taping in conjunction with other therapeutic interventions could facilitate or inhibit muscle function, support joint structure, reduce pain, and provide proprioceptive feedback to achieve and maintain preferred body alignment. Restoring trunk and scapula alignment after the stroke is critical in developing an effective treatment program for the upper extremity in hemiplegia.

The clinical efficacy of kinesiology taping in reducing edema of the lower limbs in patients treated with the Ilizarov method was investigated by Bialoszewski et al. The study involved 24 patients of both sexes subjected to lower limb lengthening using the Ilizarov method who had developed edema of the thigh or leg of the lengthened extremity. The mean age of the patients was 21 years. The patients were randomized into two groups of twelve, which were then subjected to 10 days of standard physiotherapy. The study group was additionally treated with kinesiology taping (lymphatic application), while the control group received standard lymphatic drainage. The application of kinesiology taping in the study group produced a decrease in the circumference of the thigh and leg statistically more significant than that following lymphatic drainage. It was concluded that kinesiology taping significantly reduced lower limb edema in patients treated by the Ilizarov method and that the application of kinesiology taping produced a significantly faster re-education of the edema compared to standard lymphatic massage.

Hsu et al investigated the effect of elastic taping on kinematics, muscle activity and strength of the scapular region in baseball players with shoulder impingement. Seventeen baseball players with shoulder impingement were recruited from three amateur baseball teams. All subjects were taped with both the kinesiology tape and a placebo tape over the lower trapezius muscle. The kinesiology tape resulted in positive changes in scapular motion and muscle performance. The results supported its use as a treatment aid in managing shoulder impingement problems.

Kinesio Taping – How does it work?

Kinesio Tex tape is the world’s #1 elastic Kinesio tape. It is used by 78,000 practitioners in the United States and 150,000 worldwide.  It is being used by professional athletes and Olympians such as Kerri Walsh of the gold medal winning US women’s beach volleyball team.  Here at OrthoWell/WalkWell, we are KT1 and KT2 certified in the Kinesiotaping Method.  How does Dr. Kenzo Kase , the inventor of Kinesio Taping, explain the concept of Kinesio Taping?

“ The concept of Kinesio Taping is the replication of the therapist’s hands on the patient’s skin using Kinesio tape.   The Kinesio tape mimics the qualities of the patient’s skin and success of the Kinesio Taping method depends on two factors.  One , proper evaluation of the patient’s condition by the therapist.  Two, proper application of the Kinesio Taping technique.”

So how does Kinesio Taping work?

AFFECTS ON MOVEMENT

Proprioception is our ability to sense our body’s static position in space.  Kinesthesia is our ability to sense how our bodies move through 3-dimensional space.  This “sense” occurs through several different types of sensory organs under our skin and around our joints that provide our brains with information about pressure, vibration, touch, temperature, and tension.   The effectiveness of the Kinesio tape lies in its ability to alter the sensory feedback that enters your nerves in the area that the tape is applied.  The contact of the tape on the skin appears to increase the ability of the joint and/or tissue to detect movement and to respond to outside forces.  As a result, this has a positive effect on the communication between your brain and the affected tissue which, in turn, could enhance athletic or movement performance.

AFFECTS ON PAIN

The sensory feedback from the tape has been hypothesized to reduce pain by stimulating large nerve fibers under the skin.  The input from these nerves fibers travels more rapidly to the brain than the input from pain receptors.  This is the concept of the Gate Control Theory of pain in that the sensory input overrides the pain input, thus, reducing the sensation of pain.

AFFECTS ON SWELLING

An important concept of applying Kinesio tape is “less is more”.  Athletic taping is used with tapes of high tensile strength in order to stabilize and/or reposition a joint.  Once applied, the tape resists being stretched.  Kinesio tape is applied with low levels of tension.  In most applications, the tape is applied with the affected tissue in a stretched position so that the tape has a convoluted appearance when the tissue is at resting length.  As a result, the tape has a “lifting” effect on the skin which improves circulation and lymphatic drainage below the level of the skin.  This effect can create channels of low pressure in a congested area as well as assist in opening the epithelial flaps that are present on lymph vessels resulting in a significant reduction in swelling.

“>Check out our You Tube video link in the slider on the bottom of this page to see a Kinesio Taping technique for reducing knee swelling.

Check out our post on the research behind KinesioTape.