Kinesio Tape – All you need to know


Stretchy, breathable adhesive fabric strips in a variety of colours, forms, weights, and textures are the mainstay of contemporary therapeutic taping. Athletes mostly employ them in the hopes of improving performance, avoiding injuries, healing from them, and reducing suffering.

Different types of taping have a long history in sports and physical treatment; they may be used for anything from hardly more than a fashion statement to the medically necessary (supporting an ankle injury). This article focuses on the elastic therapy taping fad/phenomenon that began in the 1970s and gained enormous popularity during the 2012 Olympics, when many athletes were covered in SpiderTech tape. Other brands also capitalised on this trend, including the much older but resurrected Kinesio® Tape and more recent competitors like RockTape® and KT Tape®. If not for the Olympic surge, taping would most likely remain relatively unknown.

Taping has never been very effective as a therapy, and it still isn’t. Most likely, tape “tinkers” with pain and stiffness by changing feeling enough; it’s like an enhanced placebo. Other than the marketing, which is particularly noteworthy for its brilliant notion of adding colour to the tape (worth millions of dollars), not much is new. Even professional athletes and their coaches are susceptible to fads and trends; in fact, they are often superstitious, thus their endorsements lack credibility.

A chiropractic device to "release the body's natural healing power" is the genesis of therapeutic taping.

Chiropractor Kenzo Kase created Kinesio Taping in the 1970s, and the firm now holds many trademark iterations. The Kinesio Tape manufacturer asserts, “If it doesn’t say Kinesio®, its [sic] not the real thing.” You may refer to the tape as lowercase “kinesio” at your own legal peril.. It all began with Kinesio Tape, but now a number of rivals are laying claim to the same territory, each with their own unique branding twist.

The scientific study of movement, known as kinesiology (also a profession in some countries), is abbreviated as “kinesio.” The phrase “kinesiology” lends legitimacy to the brand, but the product is really branding and a product that just happened to attach itself with a name to the field of kinesiology. It might have been called “Physio Tape,” “Rehab Tape,” or “Thera Tape” just as readily.

Athletes these days use an absurd amount of tape, which is entertaining nevertheless. It is completely refuted by science.

Is taping a generic idea or a brand? a little of both

All of Kinesio Taping’s rivals are well-known modalities, commercialised processes, and goods that are more focused on advertising than health.4 Although “Kinesio Taping” is a trademark, fresh interpretations of the same concept—known as “trademark genericide”—are overshadowing it. Trademarks expire when they become so well-known and well-remembered that consumers forget who created them (or never find out in the first place) and when they blend in with rival goods and trademarks that are all just riffs on the same subject. People speak about brands a lot these days, but they also use phrases like “kinesiology taping,” “therapy taping,” and “athletic taping,” which are all riffs on Kenzo Kase’s famous phrase, “taping the world for health to release the body’s natural healing power,” which no corporation has (yet) registered.

The development of traditional taping techniques for compression and support

Compression bandaging a sprained ankle is often referred to as “taping.” For example, the well-known 3M brand ACETM Tape has been in existence for a very long time and simply offers the modest guarantee that it would “provide protection for weak and injured joints.” In any case, tape has been used to compress and support tissue since the Stone Age, if not earlier. The reason for this is unclear, since tape doesn’t appear to have any significant effect.56 But as physical therapy became more popular in the 20th century, more sophisticated techniques began to appear much before Kenzo Kase labelled a particular item or approach.

What exactly does Kinesio Tape pretend to do? 

Therapy tape seeks to have its structural cake and eat it too, claiming to have physiologic benefits as well. Here’s a sampling of claims made by merely the main manufacturers throughout time:

  • activate the body’s innate healing ability
  • promotes the body’s natural healing processes; may be used to treat hundreds of common ailments; and delivers 24 hour pain relief per application for days at a time.
  • recuperation, performance, and prevention
  • minimise edoema and inflammation
  • stimulate the epidermis at a basement [sic] level raise and elevate the area between epidermal tissue layers minimise itching and discomfort from scars
  • support and relieve skin tension support and stabilise lower back muscles and joint support system to guard against inflammation and chronic pain
  • decrease inflammation and provide muscular support
  • improved rehabilitation or performance results
  • encourage efficient human mobility
  • Controlling pain, rehabilitation, and managing edema/swelling
  • performance enhancement, rehabilitation, edema/swelling treatment, neurologic dysfunction, scar management, and postural conditioning
  • while relieving pain and supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments
  • raises the skin and decompresses the fascial layers, allowing for more mobility of lymphatic fluid, which carries white blood cells throughout the body and eliminates waste products, cellular debris, and pathogens.
  • assisting the muscle in avoid over-extending or over-contracting

Not to mention that it “treats elephantine arthritis!” See the list below.

Is there anything this stuff cannot accomplish? What comes next? Will it clean your gutters? Do you take your dog for a walk? The majority of them are nonsense, a jumble of jargon, hazy promises, and not-even-wrong marketing non-sequiturs. When it comes down to concrete, testable, and credible statements, we end up with something like this:

  • lessens pain
  • avoids injuries and aids in recuperation
  • improves performance (most notably by boosting circulation)

Can recording do any of these things? I’m sceptical, and I’m not the only one.

Therapeutic taping class action lawsuits

Class action lawsuits don’t prove anything, but their prevalence here is a clear indication that these corporations are going too far beyond the science to annoy a lot of people. According to KT Health, KT Tape “can be used for hundreds of common injuries” and “provides 24 hour pain relief per application for days at a time through sweat, strain, and humidity”… prompting a class action lawsuit.9

Other businesses seem to have taken notice. The Spider Tech website used to include the motto “Recovery, Performance, Prevention,” however that is no longer the case! The RockTape about page made bold assertions, carefully presented as a personal viewpoint,10 but have now been deleted totally, most likely for legal reasons — although RockTape is also being sued. On several of their sites, they now put a (very fine-print) “not clinically proven for all injuries” asterisk — as if it’s “proven” for any!

“Proof” of benefit is a very high standard that has not been met in any manner by tape.

Taping in the Science Court

Sports medicine is still remarkably basic and, in general, far from evidence-based.11 Many commercial items are never fully tested, if at all. Taping, fortunately for us, is an exception: taping has received a lot of study attention as a result of having the thing plastered all over our screens continually during the 2012 Olympics. Other chiropractic innovations (such as scraping massage instruments or applied kinesiology) may be represented by just a few papers on PubMed. As of 2023, there are over 1200 for Kinesio Tape.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to list them all.

Graph depicting the evolution of “KinesioTape”-related PubMed search results.

Taping therapy for pain relief and injury recovery: a “sensational” product

A cat, like a person, can detect tape adhered to its paw. We can feel tape, and new sensory information has the capacity to alter the outcome — motor control and pain.12 Put some tape on a sore knee and make sure the patient believes it to be therapeutic, and chances are the patient will feel better… for a while. It’s even feasible that the knee will function a little better for a period.

Over the last ten years, a number of scientific evaluations have shown evidence of slight advantages for athletes with injuries.13,14,15,16 Is the case over? How could a doubter of taping spin that? similar to this.

Reading such papers will give you the impression that “something” is definitely happening. However, it’s also evident that it’s not very much. These are the traditional, “damned with faint praise” findings that we see in musculoskeletal medicine and sports all the time. Furthermore, whatever little effect that the studies claim to have found is most likely the result of incompletely controlled placebos, statistical legerdemain, and bias-driven design problems.

From then, it just gets worse. Some findings are blatantly unfavourable or even more disappointing.1718-1920

In the strange realm of pain, fraudulent remedies may pass tests that seem fair simply by utilising convincing sensations, such as tape on the skin, to increase the potency of the placebo effect.21 Even a stronger placebo remains a placebo, and it does not imply that the therapy is effective. It only implies that some things have a greater tendency than others to sow false optimism.

Using tape to improve performance

These are the kinds of findings you get about taping’s impact on strength (and strength is a great general proxy for performance) if you take out the poorest studies:

In a 2012 test, tape did not improve quadriceps strength in healthy individuals. Using the “single hop test for distance,” a comparable exam was conducted in 2016 to assess both strength and function. Taping was ineffective.

Elite female athletes in good health were the participants of a 2015 research. The results of this small-scale, well planned test were completely negative, leading the authors to conclude that “KT should not be used for the purpose of improving jump performance.”

In 2018, there was another experiment of jumping, this time with and without tiredness. The results showed that there was “no effect on performance or elastic behaviour” and that leaping was “not effective for demanding activities.

Tests of knee extension strength and flexibility were performed on eighteen robust young men after their legs had been taped up while they sat. These tests were conducted again using fake taping, knee sleeves, and no tape at all. Taping had no effect at all.

When compared to sham taping, rocktape did not help patients with osteoarthritis in their knees.

According to a 2018 analysis, “there is a lack of compelling evidence to support the use of KT to enhance the sports performance abilities.” This evaluation included these and many additional research.

Being kind, it’s feasible that a number of little advantages—each difficult to notice on its own but important when added together—could quietly improve performance.30 At worst, such an improvement would be slight, but if any other advantages are genuine, it may really occur. But “increasing circulation” is by far the most often mentioned particular mechanism, and that is absurd.

Taping to improve circulation and performance

Every other snake oil marketer has always claimed that increasing circulation is a technique. But for crying out loud, we’re talking about tape on your skin; this doesn’t hold up to even a cursory physiological examination, much less extensive testing. Not by mild stimulation of the skin and superficial connective tissues, or even by a lot of mechanical squishing (as in massage treatment; see Does Massage Increase Circulation? ), circulation is primarily driven by metabolic demand.

It is utterly unrealistic to believe that tape can improve circulation even somewhat enough to combat exercise-related weariness. You may combat weariness with blood doping, cocaine, and increased fitness. Not a piece of tape.

You may use tape similar to compression socks to bind up the calves of someone who has venous insufficiency, which is essentially blood pooling in the legs. This will be more fussier and only slightly more useful than compression socks. And you can, as it’s evident that using tape to mimic compression socks is possible and has been verified. If it had a strong enough impact to influence performance, much alone elite performance, I would be startled and amazed, but only if it had a strong enough effect on fit individuals. To make the claim of “circulation boosting” credible, we need to get beyond the circulatory effects of “compression.”

In a very accurate test of circulation conducted in 2012 on sixty healthy and active individuals, Stedge et al. This was a very well-designed and pertinent research that examined blood flow, muscular endurance, and other factors in the main calf muscle, the gastrocnemius, both with and without tape. However, there was not even a little variation in the taped calves. Error!

For what it’s worth, a 2020 study revealed no impact at all when kinesiology taping was compared to non-elastic tape or a placebo. Not that just increasing skin circulation would be relevant to athletes.

I doubt that future Olympians and professional sports teams will carry taping equipment.

Confused scientific afterthought: is tape colour important?

Black tape must be the quickest, right? Maybe red, however. However, no. The least shocking research result in the history of sports medicine came from a 2018 study that found no correlation at all between the colour of kinesiology tape and performance or function.

Nothing was important. Tape colour was irrelevant. Colour choice was irrelevant. It did not matter whether KT was positioned “properly” with tension. For every participant, there was no difference in performance, strength, or function between the experimental and control rounds. It was a resoundingly negative outcome, consistent with earlier and much superior research, demonstrating that KT offers little to no non-specific benefit in addition to no particular benefit. Nor does the impact of coloured vs plain KT need for any impromptu justifications.
Having said that, I wouldn’t have been stunned if colour had an impact. I would have just written it off to the psychological influence of stylish clothing and a good vibe.


Does it have any significance? A bit of a letdown, but still preferable than nothing? Of course, if you define it as follows:

  • Comparatively inexpensive
  • Completely secure
  • A strong placebo impact

Tape is only a moderator of sensation. Playfully generating novel experiences is a very human trait. We’ll use something else if tape isn’t available. We are input-output devices that creatively and continuously tamper with our emotions and touch-test everything around us. As far as it goes, that’s OK. If you apply tape with this mindset, it’s only “wishful thinking” if you have unrealistic expectations.

But most individuals have precisely unrealistic expectations. Of course, tapestries get a lot of testimonials. I quote a proponent of taping: “I know there’s too much hype, but taping has amazing results.” Really? Isn’t “amazing” a little bit of hyperbole? Antibiotics are wonderful. Transplants of the heart are incredible. The outcomes of Taping aren’t really noteworthy.

No matter how much sensory tinkering is done, functional challenge, or training, will always be a much more significant driver of recovery and performance.  clinically meaningful impacts on function throughout rehabilitation, much less in healthy athletes. The truth is that we can never really improve until we put ourselves under some stress, and being filmed isn’t that difficult.

“Sensory tinkering” is OK as long as it’s done sensibly; otherwise, please don’t bother.



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Aguilar-Ferrándiz 2013, op. cit. “Kinesio taping may have a placebo effect on pain.”

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Kim L. McManus, Lara A. Kimmel, Anne E. Holland. RockTape provides no benefit over sham taping in people with knee osteoarthritis who are completing an exercise program: a randomised trial. Physiotherapy. 2021.

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