Kinesiotaping, also called Neuromuscular dressing is a Technique that employs a specific material, Kinesio-tape strips, supposedly to achieve various improvements in health and injury prevention and recovery.
Kinesiotaping acquires worldwide visibility and fame a few years ago, curiously coinciding with the massive donations of Kinesio tapes to the Olympic athletes, especially in Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Do you comply with what promises or remains in a placebo? Let’s review what is known today:
Does kinesiotaping work? Does it have a scientific basis?
This technique is attributed benefits such as improved performance, improved circulation and drainage (in bruises, for example), improvement of pain … But the truth is that the evidence shows that this is not so clear. I recommend a couple of readings that delve deeply into the current evidence on this technique, citing numerous studies:
- Review of evidence, by Judith Macias-Harris, SLP, CKTI.
- Review on the alleged benefits of kinesiotaping, by Edwin Ryan, DPT, ATC, CKTI.
In summary, the content of the two previous links goes to say that, although it is true that by doing research, we can find individual studies where kinesiotaping seems to have a beneficial effect (even if it is light), most of the evidence does not It sustains it as a technique with the benefits it supposes that it produces.
Kinesiotaping or Kinesio-tape?
Here I think it is important to make a distinction: kinesiotaping as technique (the application of strips, tension, shape, even some say that colors influence …) and Kinesio-tape, as material.
Asking physiotherapists who routinely use this technique, they recommend the material because it is strong, durable, you can shower with the bandage put on if necessary, it does not take off in the sweat and heat of the summer, it is removed well from the skin without being Too annoying … That is, they use the material to perform different dressing and treatment techniques, but they do not use the technique and principles of kinesiotaping.
Strips, by themselves, have no therapeutic effect. There are patients and athletes who think that the strip itself is therapeutic. That when sticking it does some kind of effect or releases some substance. Some people buy the tapes to apply themselves, looking for this effect simply by the use of the material: this s a mistake.
Similarly, there are those who think that colors have some utility. That each color has a specific indication, but this is not correct either. The colors are simply for aesthetics, so that the athletes combine the bandages with the colors of their equipment, but it is not described or indicated the use of certain colors to obtain different effects: the ribbons of all colors are the same.
So why is it used so much? Why are there people it works for?
What is so widespread is clearly a fashion: it is not too expensive, the celebrities use it, you can walk with it on the beach, work, gym … and then you start attracting looks. In his day we had the balance bracelets, which improved the abilities. Well now we have strips of color, to which we attribute some kindness that nobody has said they have.
We talked about marketing and now we also talk about beliefs and placebo. We know that athletes are often superstitious to a greater or lesser extent. Superstition is a simple, risk-free way of thinking that something can improve your performance or reduce your pain without having side effects.
The Placebo Works, and it’s very powerful. Its effects are known, but it is something we often forget. For a treatment to be effective, you have to show that it is better than using a placebo, as the placebo also relieves pain and improves performance in certain cases.
Kinesiotaping is often used in combination with other recovery techniques. If it is used, it must be added to the treatment, not a technique used individually or only because the patient / athlete asks for it.
However, if the patient / athlete wants it, failure to apply it can cause a feeling of discomfort or incomplete treatment, so many physiotherapists apply these strips of color, sometimes even while telling the patients / athletes .
But it does, as we mentioned before, the technique of dressing and the material determines the effects it may have. If I use kinesiotaping to make a bandage with a therapeutic effect (make a functional bandage, fix a joint to prevent it from hurting) the benefit is the applied treatment, not the material in question.
And if the person feels better by applying the colored ribbons, even if they are simply like placebo, it also has an effect, as they had the balancing bracelets at the time …