What is K-tape?!

What is k-tape?!

What actually is ‘K-tape’?!

How many times lately are we watching sporting events and get distracted by the brightly coloured k-tape all over the athletes. Do you ever wonder what it does? And would it work for you if you were injured?

K-tape is the shortened version of ‘Kinesiology tape’.  In terms of where K-tape came from, in a nutshell it was designed in the 70s by a chiropractor called Dr. Kenzo Kase who was looking at developing new treatment methods.

There are a number of different technical theories around how K-tape works but assuming you are not ‘medically minded’ we’ll keep it simple.

Some ways that K-tape is thought to help during rehabilitation:

  • Alleviates discomfort and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin
  • Lifts the skin which allows more effective blood flow to the area
  • Re-educate the neuromuscular system to reduce inflammation and promote healing
  • Provide support and stability to muscles and joints without limiting range of motion
  • Provide extended soft tissue stretch and manipulation to prolong benefits of physiotherapy
  • Targets receptors within the somatosensory system to alleviate pain

It all sounds pretty good in theory, however if you’re like me and are interested in the concrete evidence, most systematic reviews that have been published conclude that there are no significant benefits to using K-tape when compared to placebo, other types of tape or other types of physiotherapy interventions.

So that begs the question – why do people still use it!?

Well what we do know is that K-tape could be beneficial as an addition to other physiotherapy interventions – for example, following manual therapy or mobilisation. There is some research about the placebo effect of K-tape and this says a lot – if brightly coloured tape can influence the outcome of an athletes perception of their performance and their pain, and therefore influence their actual performance, then it is definitely worth having every colour you can in your bag of tricks!

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