Tape: All Hype or Scientifically Sound?

Bottom Line:

It’s difficult to find a single sporting event where you won’t see an athlete wearing colorful tape somewhere on their body. You may have wondered what it is, and more importantly what it’s used for. The tape is called kinesio tape and was initially developed by a Chiropractor about 40 years ago. It works by stimulating proprioception, which is the medical term for knowing where your body is in space.

Why it Matters:

Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it’s loaded with small sensory nerve fibers that are responsible for proprioception. Placing tape in specific areas of your body across the skin provides sensory input that gives your brain more information as you move. This additional information has been shown to help improve balance, reduce pain, and support proper movement patterns.

  • Tape worn on the skin provides your brain with more information about your movement patterns and can help reduce injuries and improve rehabilitation.
  • Taping has been shown to improve balance for up to 72 hours after the tape has been removed.
  • Researchers have found taping can be more effective than postural exercises alone to reduce neck pain.

Next Steps:

You can think of the tape less like a brace and more like a nervous system reminder that you wear on your skin. Not only does it look cool, but it has the potential to support better movement, reduce pain, and limit injuries. Now the next time you see an athlete wearing tape, you will know it’s more than just a fashion statement!

Science Source: Extended use of Kinesiology Tape and Balance in Participants with Chronic Ankle Instability. Journal of Athletic Training 2016

Efficacy of kinesio taping versus postural correction exercises on pain intensity and axioscapular muscles activation in mechanical neck dysfunction: a randomized blinded clinical trial. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2017

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