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What is K tape and will it help me?
💡 ‘The Executive Summary’
Despite K tape, Kineso tape, KT tape sports tape (or whatever you’d like to call it!) being greatly debated in the healthcare world, people are still using it and finding real relief from their injury, loving it every day.
It has remained a staple part of our physio toolbox, and we sit firmly on the love side. Why is that? Because we think it can help people out of pain, at least temporarily! So, lets get into it, why do we still think K tape is worth the hype? (here is a very short video if you would prefer getting a birdseye view… or the article below if you want to chew on the meat!)
K Tape, what is it? And what does it do?
Ever looked at a rugby player running down the pitch covered in sticky white tape and wondered how on earth that might be helping? Well, we’re about to answer all your questions.
The good news is, it actually has some use (shocker, I know) and isn’t entirely for show, it has been demonstrated to have a tangible pain relief quality, whether that is placebo or otherwise. We delve into some studies below. Having said that, we know taping is largely dependent on personal preference. But at the very least it is relatively cheap, safe, and easy to use!
Help, or hype? Is there any evidence for the use of K tape?
Now, sports taping has been greatly debated since it first burst onto the scene back in the 1970s, but K tape (another more widely known brand of sports tape) didn’t really become super mainstream until the London 2012 Olympics when we started to see it used by many of the athletes competing at the event.
So, hype or help? That is the question… to which you’ll get many different answers. If you’re asking me, I will always say it’s like marmite, some people love it, some hate it; I actually love it. It is one of the many different tools we can use as physiotherapists to aid injury management. On the Kinesio Tape website it claims to ‘reduce swelling, increase mobility and enhance recovery.’
So, I’m going to leave it up to you; I’ll give you some recommendations and then encourage you to give it a go, decide whether or not you find it helps, then get in touch if you have any questions!
1. Does KT tape help with pain relief?
In short, yes. K tape has been proven to provide pain relief for acute injuries. As stated in this paper, ‘A systematic review of the effectiveness of kinesio taping for musculoskeletal injury’ it has been showed to significantly reduce pain and improve range of motion in C spine (neck) related whiplash injuries.
It also demonstrated a short term pain relief effect for sports related shoulder injuries. Can we apply that to all injuries you might be wondering? In my opinion, why not give it a go!
The most effective uses of tape (we would recommend) is for joint related issues, and also bruising – see this article titled ‘Kinesio Tape For Bruising: Does it Work?’ if you’re interested in learning more about this!
2. Will KT tape help with injury prevention?
How does bit of tape stop you getting injured exactly? Easy(ish), if your ankle, knee, shoulder is strapped in place, it can’t move much, if it can’t move much you’re less likely to roll your ankle all the way over enough to pull any ligaments in the joint (a rough example).
We have seen some research supporting this statement, but not enough for it to be clinically relevant, so again, use at your own discretion (perhaps have a read of some of the studies linked in the references box if you have any more questions on this front, and if you’re still confused – drop us a line!)
3. Will KT tape enhance my performance?
Now, this is the statement I’m sceptical of… The theory is is enhances circulation – this links back to the bruising argument – loosely. Neither myself, or any studies support the circulation argument really… There are some that suggest it has some influence on strength – although this has also been declared a farce. Again, as with the other points this is really dependent on personal preference on whether or not you perceive tape to have an influence on your performance! We do also have placebo acting here too (placebo – ‘a medicine or procedure prescribed for the psychological benefit to the patient rather than for any physiological effect’).
4. Can KT tape get wet?
In short, yes. Sports persons use it, and most people who do sport should sweat(!) – so it is designed to withstand this – and to a degree, KT tape it water-resistant.
However, high levels of sweat and water, such as showering or bathing can make it come off quicker.
It can also cause a reaction, so do be aware of this fact if you have a hot bath with it in.
For long-lasting wearability of it, try not to get it too wet and pat dry when getting out of the shower or bath!
5. Can KT tape make my pain worse?
Generally, no. If it doesn’t help you, then at the very least it should not make your pain worse. From our experience, the worst that can happen is that you attach it to your leg hair and pull it off with it… free wax anyone?
If you’ve had a poor experience with Kinesiology tape, do let us know what your injury was and what the pain caused by KT tape was. Always eager to expand our learning.
6. Which KT tape is best?
We have tried many tapes over the years, and in summary, we prefer Meglio kinesiology tape as a brand.
We have found it to be more durable, a better water and sweat resistance material, and a high quality product whilst being cost-effective. They say you “get what you pay for”… but sometimes you get surprised by the quality you get for fairly low prices… Meglio is that example!
To grab a roll of Meglio KT tape check it out on the link above.
When is KT tape used?
KT tape is used predominantly in knee, shoulder, ankle and shin splint injuries. Specifically for ankle sprains, rotator cuff injuries, patellofemoral pain syndromes, and shin splint pain to provide stability and support to each of these areas. If you are not sure if your injury would benefit from KT tape, then reach out!
So will KT Tape be of benefit to me?
Applying KT tape can be of help even if it is only temporarily. And of course, it is better than nothing! So if you have knee pain, shoulder pain, ankle sprain, or shin splints then it would be well worth giving taping a go.
- KT tape is cheap (ish)
- KT tape can be effective depending on who you are and how you use it
- KT tape looks pretty cool!
- KT tape is totally safe (unless you’re allergic to tape, or strap it so tight you cut off the blood supply.. then perhaps its not so safe! – so just patch test it, just in case!)
KT tape’s biggest effect is the feeling stability it brings. It creates a new ‘feeling’, whether that be making us ‘feel’ better or worse, thats entirely subjective, person-to-person.
If after all this you’re still wondering where we sit on the use of KT tape – we like it! And if it’s good enough for us, along with your favourite athletes, why not give it a go? If you do have any questions, thoughts, or perhaps you’d like some further advice please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
If you are unsure if you need Physiotherapy, or if Online Physiotherapy can assist you, then we are currently offering a free 15-minute screening call, in which you can book in on the link. Or, if you need urgent Physio advice and attention then book in below.