What is Kinesio Taping and is it right for me?
with advice from LaKeesha Crouch, PT, DPT, ATC, CKTP
and Krystal Schoch, PT, DPT
Over the last few years, Kinesio Taping® has leapt from the physical therapy clinic to major athletic venues. Professional athletes, in particular Olympians like Kerri Walsh, have been seen in recent years with ornately applied tape in black, blue, pink and, occasionally, the less obvious nude, strapped across shoulders, knees and thighs. But what is Kinesio Taping, exactly, and is it right for the everyday athlete?
Kinesio Taping was originated by Dr. Kenzo Kase in Japan in the late 1970s, explains LaKeesha Crouch, a physical therapist and the clinical director at Dwight Orthopedic Rehabilitation Company, a Physiquality network member in Detroit, Michigan. She adds that his goal was to enhance function through various taping techniques.
Physical therapist Krystal Schoch says that the tape can be used in a variety of ways:
- As supportive taping that can be used instead of bracing
- To create neuromuscular re-education, i.e., to help muscles relearn how to work together after an injury
- To reduce edema or swelling
It also allows for quicker returns to sports after an injury, which is why we so frequently see it on professional athletes.
For athletes, its flexible properties make it more attractive than past taping options as it does not limit their range of motion. In addition, the tape lifts the skin and encourages circulation, which can reduce swelling or stimulate local muscles. Krystal also points out that Kinesio Tape lasts longer than many other types of tape; an athlete can be taped up by a physical therapist or trainer and know that the application will last at least three days.
However, the taping is not just for athletes; it can be used for a variety of ailments. LaKeesha cites a long list of conditions for which she has used Kinesio Taping, including carpal tunnel syndrome, muscular imbalances, circulatory conditions and joint injuries. Krystal agrees that Kinesio Taping is not just for the athlete; at her clinic, The Physical Therapy Institute (a Physiquality network clinic in Delray Beach, Florida), the staff often uses Kinesio Tape to treat patients with chronic pain or gait issues. She explains that specific back taping techniques can help to improve posture and reduce pain, which is why she likes using it with athletes and geriatric patients alike.
If you’re skeptical that the tape is just another sports treatment fad, you’re not alone, which is why several studies have been done to test the validity of the company’s claims. Just as we were seeing Kinesio Tape used throughout the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy published a study showing that the subjects treated with Kinesio Taping reported “immediate improvement” in pain reduction and movement. More recently, studies have shown that Kinesio Taping can improve circulation and possibly reduce injury.
LaKeesha, a certified Kinesio Taping practitioner, says that physical therapists and other practitioners can take courses on the technique, created specifically for healthcare professionals, at www.kinesiotaping.com. There are books on the subject, and a quick search on YouTube will supply a plethora of instructional videos for consumers. However, Krystal agrees that asking a knowledgeable professional, like a physical therapist, how to apply Kinesio Tape is the best way to go, particularly if you are using it to recover from an injury.
Before you go out and buy a roll of Kinesio Tape to start applying it at home, Krystal cautions, do your homework and be aware of what you buy. Her clinic uses Kinesio Gold, but there are a variety of brands on the market; ask your physical therapist for a recommendation. (To find a highly qualified physical therapist near you, use our zip code search.) She also urges consumers to see this as anything but a gimmick; while Kinesio Taping won’t replace exercise or rehabilitation, it will improve circulation, reduce swelling and get you back on the field more quickly.
||LaKeesha Crouch, PT, DPT, ATC, CKTP, is a physical therapist and the clinical director at Dwight Orthopedic Rehabilitation Company, a Physiquality network member in Detroit, Michigan. LaKeesha’s specialties include sports rehabilitation, geriatrics and post-surgical care; she is also a certified athletic trainer and earned her certification as a Kinesio Taping practitioner in 2012.
||Krystal Schoch, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist at The Physical Therapy Institute, a Physiquality network clinic in Delray Beach, Florida. Initially a physical therapist assistant at PTI, she earned her doctorate of physical therapy at the University of Saint Augustine in 2012.
For further information:
Aguilar-Ferrándiz, Encarnación, Adelaida María Castro-Sánchez, Guillermo A Matarán-Peñarrocha, Rafael Guisado-Barrilao, Carmen García-Ríos and Carmen Moreno-Lorenzo. A randomized controlled trial of a mixed Kinesio taping–compression technique on venous symptoms, pain, peripheral venous flow, clinical severity and overall health status in postmenopausal women with chronic venous insufficiency. Clinical Rehabilitation, published online February 20, 2013.
Chen, Che-Hsiu, Tsun-Shun Huang, Huei-Ming Chai, Mei-Hwa Jan and Jiu-Jenq Lin. Two stretching treatments for the hamstrings: proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation versus kinesio taping. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, February 2013.
Caldwell Therapy Center specialized programs: Kinesio Taping. Caldwell Therapy Center.
Kinesio Tape vs. athletic tape for sports injuries. SouthWest Orthopedic Physical Therapy, March 3, 2011.
Neuromuscular re-education. Thibodeaux Albro Touchet Therapy Group.
Parker-Pope, Tara. A quirky athletic tape gets its Olympic moment. New York Times, August 19, 2008.
Thelen, Mark D., Paul D. Stoneman and James A. Dauber. The clinical efficacy of Kinesio Tape for shoulder pain: A randomized, double-blinded, clinical trial. Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy, July 2008.