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A recent British study has found that kinesiology tape applied to the hamstrings of healthy young male subjects, produced flexibility gains over a longer period than static stretching or the use of PNF stretches.

This small study involved 30 male subjects aged between 18 and 22 years with no prior hamstring injuries, but with reasonable pre-existing hamstring flexibility as they were excluded if they couldn’t achieve 70 degrees in the straight-leg raise test.  The test used in the study was the “Active Knee Extension” test (AKE) and the subjects were divided into 3 groups: static stretching of 3 x 30 second holds, PNF stretches with three holds of 10 second contractions of the hamstrings, advancing to the next point of resistance between contractions, and the use of kinesiology tape along the middle of the posterior thigh.  Measurements were taken at baseline, 1 minute after intervention, then at 10 minutes and 30 minutes.

Immediately after the intervention, PNF stretching gave the greatest improvement in range, with static stretching and kinesiology tape providing small gains. However, over the remaining measured time, the benefits of static stretching and PNF stretching were gradually lost, whereas the kinesiology tape group continued to show “a positive linear correlation with time post intervention”.  In other words, the flexibility continued to improve to 30 minutes.  The authors estimate through mathematical modelling, that the greatest improvement in flexibility occurred at approximately 24 minutes post intervention for the kinesiology tape group.

This finding may have positive implications for those that require improvements in their hamstring flexibility to be maintained over longer durations, particularly in a sporting context.  However, it is important to remember that these young male subjects did not have a history of injury or tightness, so the findings may not be generalizable to other populations including those with pathology.  It is also important to remember that increased muscle flexibility may not always be desirable, as there may also be a lack of muscular control in this new range initially, and without conditioning in this new range, may cause an increase in injury risk in the short term.

Farquharson, C., & Greig, M., (2015).  Temporal efficacy of kinesiology tape vs traditional stretching methods on hamstring extensibility. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy Vol 10 No. 1 45-51.