A recent systematic review from Singapore published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that kinesiology tape is “superior to minimal intervention for pain relief” and, not surprisingly, “when used in combination with conventional therapy may be effective in reducing pain”.
This systematic review particularly targeted trials that involved individuals with “chronic” musculoskeletal pain, defined as pain greater than four weeks duration. Their criteria resulted in 17 studies being included in the review. They found that kinesiology tape was superior to minimal intervention for pain relief. Minimal intervention included no taping, sham taping and usual care. There was no change to “disability” scores except for two studies that used kinesiology tape as an adjunct to exercise – these studies showed a significant difference in favour of the combined tape and exercise group. That fits well with our Rocktape philosophy in that we encourage the use of Rocktape as an adjunct to usual care, to decrease pain and promote better movement patterns, so that exercise can be resumed as soon as possible.
There remains debate about the mechanism of action of kinesiology tape, and this review is unable to offer any further meaningful evidence. The authors speculate that it may be due to proposed mechanisms such as altering afferent input, a decongestive role, or “stimulating the descending pain inhibitory mechanism from the higher centres of the brain”.
There is also no further clarification of the optimal amount of tension that should be applied but the authors suggest that the effect size for pain reduction was lower when more tension was applied. Once again, these findings are in keeping with our “less is more” approach to the tension applied in taping – less stretch often gets better results.
This review also concurs with the findings of Kalron’s systematic review that found “moderate evidence” for pain reduction. The body of evidence is building slowly to match our clinical and anecdotal experiences.
Lim, ECW, & Tay, MGX, (2015). Kinesio taping in musculoskeletal pain and disability that lasts for more than four weeks: is it time to peel off the tape and throw it out with the sweat? A systematic review with meta-analysis focussed on pain and also methods of tape application. British Journal of Sports Medicine doi: 10.1136/ bjsports-2014-094151