There is a growing body of evidence that shows kinesiology tape can assist with alleviating pain, and therefore improve muscle output. The exact mechanisms of these findings are still the subject of debate, however importantly for clinicians, we can be assured that there is evidence behind the use of kinesiology tape in helping with our patient’s pain. A recent study has found that kinesiology tape can improve the peak force of the quadriceps in a group of people with knee osteoarthritis, as well as improving functional tasks.
The study was done by Anandkumar et al, and was a double blinded randomised controlled study. They had 40 people with knee arthritis, aged between 45 and 60 years old. They divided this cohort into two groups, one having kinesiology applied correctly, and the other a sham application that looked the same but without any tissue stretch or stretch on the tape. The measures used to assess the effectiveness of the tape were isokinetic quadriceps peak force, a timed stair climbing task and VAS level of pain whilst completing the stair climbing task. The tests were conducted at baseline and then 30 minutes after tape application.
The researchers found that the kinesiology tape, when correctly applied, resulted in an increase in peak concentric quadriceps force, a decrease in time taken to complete the stair climbing test, and less pain reported whilst doing the stair test. These findings are significant in that we know from other studies that ideal long term management of knee arthritis involves strengthening the quadriceps. Any modalities that can assist in reducing knee pain will allow better activation of the quadriceps and this may result in a more effective strengthening program. And in the short term, any reduction in pain during functional tasks will be welcomed by those with knee arthritis.
Anandkumar, S., Sudarshan, S., & Nagpal, P., (2014). Efficacy of kinesio taping on isokinetic quadriceps torque in knee osteoarthritis: a double blinded randomised controlled study. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice doi: 10.3109/09593985.2014.896963