Kinesio taping: yea nor nay?

I’ve had a minor niggling calf pain for a week or so. Should I kinesio tape that sucker? Kinesio tape (also called KT tape, though technically that’s a brand name): it was a hot ticket at the olympics a few years ago (London, maybe?). I’ve used it before, for minor tweaks and sore spots. I see others at the gym doing it. Patients of mine ask about it. Professionals (hi PTs!) do it. Theoretically, kinesio taping is supposted to increase blood and lymph flow by lifting the skin— this isn’t the same as traditional athletic taping, which is meant to create stability. Because I’m a science person, I’m immediately skeptical of a claim without evidence, even if it seems generally sane.

So, let’s ask: Kinesio tape. Is it safe? Does it do anything? Should I cover myself in multi-colored tape before my next workout?
taped up and ready to run.
why yes, my KT tape does match my skoras, than you for noticing.

Science says:

  • It’s pretty safe. Kinesio taping is non-invasive. It stands to reason that a few people might have an allergy or other bad reaction on the skin. And as with anything that externally supports a musculoskeletal structure, long-term use could potentially alter mechanics and permit continued imbalances, though this is theoretical. And of course, it can hurt you in the wallet.
  • Evidence on its effectiveness in injury management and prevention is sparse:
  • Evidence on its effectiveness for performance enhancement in healthy people is even worse. Kinesio taping of the legs appears to have no effect or even a negative effect on power, endurance or fatigue.

So overall, take-home point? Kinesio taping could have a modest benefit in pain or range of motion in the short term, but there evidence isn’t really there. If it helps for pain or injury, it might be because it increases position sense of the taped area. It probably does nothing to help performance in healthy people.

So should you use it? If you are interested in it and you have a minor musculoskeletal issue, or if a PT recommends or applies it, give it a shot. It could have a small short-term benefit on your pain, proprioception, or range of motion. It might not help, but it probably won’t hurt you— so the worst that could happen is you look a little silly and you’re out ten bucks.
zabby ready to run
i look a little silly and i’m out ten bucks: here goes nuthin’. 

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