Whilst research into the effects of kinesiology tape is in its infancy, we can look to findings of other taping studies for potential answers as to how tape may assist patients and athletes. One such study by Thedon et al was recently published in the journal Gait and Posture. This study looked at postural sway, with subjects measured at baseline, then after a fatigue protocol consisting of repeated heel raise/drop off a step. The control group showed a significant increase in sway when the ankle musculature was fatigued, however the experimental group, who had a 10cm length of 2.5cm Transpore tape applied to both Achlles tendons, showed little increase in sway.
The authors concluded that whilst the tape made no difference to sway at baseline before fatigue, the extra cutaneous stimulation of the tape was significant in “counteracting the degraded postural performance” when the muscles were fatigued. Perhaps the brain uses muscle spindle information preferentially, but when the muscles are fatigued and the information is not as accurate, other sources of afferent input are used, and the quality of cutaneous afferent input could be increased by using tape on the skin. This may have interesting implications in the management of fatigue-related muscle strains such as hamstring strains in AFL football where tape may have a role in providing the player with increased proprioception at the hip and knee when fatigue sets in.
Thedon, T., Mandrick, K., Fossiac, M., Mottet, D., & Perrey, S., (2011). Degraded postural performance after muscle fatigue can be compensated by skin stimulation. Gait and Posture 33 686-689.