Saturday, May 25, 2013

Kinesio Tape and All That Hype

I haven't gone into a lot of detail about some of my physical struggles for two reasons:

1.)  Someone out there has it harder than I do and probably kicks ass, so what do I have to complain about? and
2.)  I don't want to come off as a whiny cry-baby.

We all have our struggles whether they are physical limitations, injuries, mental walls, negative thoughts or low motivation.  This post is about one step for me to overcome some of my physical limitations.

Let it be plainly stated now that I am not a doctor, have no medical training and am just some random person on the internet with an interest in running and prone to knee injuries.  My thoughts are only opinions and if you have any questions about any pain, injury, applying sports tape (of any name brand) or any other health issues, please seek the advice of a professional.  I'll let you decide if "professional" means a doctor visit, e-mailing for a physical therapist referral or visiting a big-box store on a day that they have personal trainers applying said sports tape.

So with that stated, let's begin my Kinesio Tape experiences and review of two brands.

Kinesio Tex Gold tape applied by my physical therapist on my left knee

This is Kinesio Tex Gold tape my physical therapist applied around my bum knee.  After wiping my leg down with alcohol (to remove skin oil, lotions or any other things that can effect the tape's ability to properly adhere), she took two strips and cut a slit down the middle of them, creating a "v" shape and placing on strip above and one below the patella.

I didn't notice a pain-free improvement right away, but by the time the day was drawing to an end, I was feeling much better about the ache and swelling that already existed from overdoing it that weekend (with a fundraiser walk in the morning and then a race that evening).

I was a believer in this whole "taping-thing" by that night.  I felt like my knee was stronger and less painful.  Placebo effect?  Mind over matter?  There certainly is some sticky issue over the science behind the tape.
Articles on the world wide web state that studies fail to find evidence that it works, yet so many people claim that it does help.

By morning however, my experience with Kinesio Tex Gold was over.  It had peeled off while I was sleeping!  I didn't shower with it,  I didn't run in it, I just did the normal routine-type stuff.

    It didn't even last 24 hours. 

A week passed and I ran another 5k race and wondered off to a health fair expo.  There, I found a booth doing free KT taping...

I confess that this roadrunner was NOT at my health expo.

Both my physical therapist and a friend's husband who is a physical therapist felt that the stuff available at most sporting good stores was not as good as some of the options available to licensed therapists.  So, with that in mind, I still decided to wait in line (over an hour) for this free taping.

KT Tape applied by a personal trainer on my right heel

KT Tape applied on my left (bum) knee by a personal trainer

 My physical therapist wanted me to keep the Kinesio Tex Gold on for three days-- that didn't happen.  I have awhile before my next appointment with her...  So I felt a little lucky when I found someone doing free taping at the health expo.  He used KT tape, and said that the tape is designed for an active life.  It can be sweat in, worn in the shower, and while swimming.

As you can see by my puckered up skin on my knee cap, he got me nice and tight while the knee had a slight bend to it.

(I asked him to get my ankle too since I had hit a cobblestone on a trail while training for the 5k I had that day.  I hit that stone and rolled my ankle weeks ago, but still had some slight pain in it.  The pain was mostly noticeable at night when trying to go to sleep, but an ache was always present.  After taping it, I immediately felt relief.)

I ran with this tape, showered several times, slept, ate, drank, played...  it stayed on.

After 4 days of it on, the only real wear of it was the "KT" starting to peel off the tape itself.

4 days after application
With no signs of the tape coming off, and my original therapy plan being three days with it on, I decided to peel it off.   I was told that it can stay on for 7-9 days.  Wow.  I suppose the Kinesio Tex Gold could have the same durability... but for some reason, the first go around had it peeling off right away.

Not being a scientist or reading up on all the reasons why this tape might be "junk science", I might not have a well-rounded opinion on this stuff...  but after my chronic pain being alleviated, I am a believer.  Placebo?  Maybe.  Would I recommend this as the only part of recovery or injury prevention?  Absolutely NOT.

Proper stretching, strength training and when needed, physical therapy are all vital to healing, recovery and injury prevention.   However, I feel that the pain in my heel is gone and the knee pain greatly subsided.  While running with the tape, I noticed that my knee did not flare up or swell.  So with the advice and direction of a medical professional, I will be using KT tape.

Is one better than the other?  Probably.  With both being in the same price range, I'll probably start using the one that is most accessible and go from there.  (Which happens to be KT tape available at my local running stop and every big-box store on the corner.  Sorry Kinesio Gold.)

Tell me below what you think of "sports tape", kinesio tape or athletic tape.  Do you use it?  Is it just hype?


  1. I use it for my post tibial tendonitis and am a believer in it. I had no discomfort when running with it. AFter I took it off and ran, the tendonitis pain came back again. I take my KT tape rolls with me everywhere. My physical therapist even taped my GLUTES!!

  2. I had never used it until last week when my sports doc wanted to put the KTape on my hamstring, I am a medical person and the lack of research has made me look away from he hype but after my n=1 experiment I am convinced too. I've had it on my hamstring 4 days now, through runs, bikes, showers, etc and it is only just starting to peel a little in one spot. This along with ART and stretching/strength is going to work I hope!

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