Kinesio tape is a type of thin, cotton-based elastic tape that is designed to assist the rehabilitation of various musculoskeletal and inflammatory conditions. There are over 50 brands on the market today, but It was originally founded by Dr Kenzo Kase in mid 1970s. The original concept of the tape was designed to imitate the thickness, weight and elasticity of human skin so that it could be worn to facilitate recovery of movement without any or minimal skin irritation.
There are many proposed benefits of using kinesio taping, some positive effects are supported by research whereas others are still being tested. Here are some possible benefits:
Increase joint space
Joint space narrowing is a common finding in degenerative or overuse musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis or subacromial impingement. It was found that in research kinesio taping can help in increasing joint space in knee and shoulder, and that is likely one reason how kinesio taping can help to reduce joint irritation.
Reduce pain signal
The decompression effect of kinesio taping unload the underlying tissues of the skins. By doing so, it helps to reduce the stimulation of the various signals in the soft tissues. A study about the effect of kinesio taping and manual pressure release has found that combining the two techniques significantly reduce myofascial pain and tension.
Proprioception is the awareness of our body and movement. A deficit in proprioception could lead to injury and reduced performance in sports, or recurring injury such as ankle sprain. It was found that kinesio taping is beneficial in improving ankle proprioception short term in someone who has ankle instability after an ankle injury.
Improve circulation and reduce swelling
One of the theories about the decompression effect of kinesio taping is that it increases the subcutaneous space, which could improve superficial blood flow and circulation of lymphatic fluid. This allow swelling drainage to happen more efficiently, and studies shown that this improvement can be significant. It also helps to reduce muscular haematoma (bruises) much quicker.
Hypertrophic, keloid and contracture scars are results of abnormal collagen degradation and synthesis. There are many treatments that can be used for scar management. A less well-known treatment is the use of kinesio taping. Studies have shown that kinesio taping can assist the reduction of scar appearance, pain, tightness and improve function.
Kinesio taping has many benefits, some well researched and other less so. At bodyfocus, we never use one type of treatment in isolation. We always combine it with manual therapy, massage, and/or exercise.
If you have any questions with Kinesio Taping, feel free to reach out to us!
By Wilson Hui
Titled MSK Physiotherapist