What is Kinesio Tape and Does it Work?

At this year’s Summer Olympic Games it was common to see the colorful tape adorning many athletes in a variety of patterns. Web traffic to Kinesio, the company’s website, has increased 1,000% since the Olympic games.

Kinesiology or k tape is a strong cotton, elastic adhesive tape that is used to treat athletic injuries and other physical disorders.

It doesn’t hinder range of motion, is waterproof, and is designed to last for approximately five days. When it was first introduced in the 1960’s it was used primarily by orthopedists, chiropractors, acupuncturists and other medical practitioners of Japanese medicine.

Kineseo tape has also been used since 1988 by Japanese Olympic and professional athletes. Its popularity really surged in 2008 during the Beijing Olympics where 50,000 rolls were donated and used by various athletes.

The taping technique was designed by Japanese chiropractor and acupuncturist Kenzo Kase in 1979. He believed that standard taping methods were too restrictive and may even prolong injuries because they blocked the flow of fluids beneath the skin.

He believed a more flexible tape that could be applied to injured muscles would stimulate circulation through its tug on skin and start clearing out the damage through your lymphatic system. His basic concepts are creating space, flow and cooling.

Dr. Kase believes that the source of some joint and muscle pain lies in the thin layer of skin between the epidermis and the dermis. Conventional therapies compress these areas. He claims that the tape opens the space between the epidermis and dermis enabling a better flow of blood and lymphatic fluids. This results in a cooling effect which minimizes swelling and damage.

There are currently around 100,000 practitioners who are trained in the application of kinesio tape and approximately 80 countries used it on their Olympic athletes. The correct placement of the tape is crucial to receiving any benefits. It’s not like the average person can just slap some tape in the general area of their injury and receive the benefits.

Does it Work?

Kinesio tape certainly looks cool and you’re probably wondering if it works. So far there hasn’t been any scientific evidence that k tape produces “clinically significant benefits.” In a total of seven studies done so far there wasn’t any long-term benefits found, but researchers speculate that it may help with short-term range of motion and muscle stabilization.

Some additional benefits may come from the placebo effect. Your mind is a powerful force. If you believe that something will help you then it probably will. There are thousands of athletes worldwide that firmly believe that it helps their performance.

Hopefully larger research studies can be put together in the near future. Many adjunct therapies don’t get large amounts of research because it doesn’t get the funding that products from major drug companies put out.

If you decide to try kinesio tape during your marathon training remember that it is not a cure and should be applied by a trained therapist as part of your rehab. Personally, I only see the kinesio craze getting bigger and I expect that you’ll be seeing kinesio tape on an athlete near you.

10 Responses to What is Kinesio Tape and Does it Work?

  1. trueindigo August 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    Excellent write up on a very visible trend!

    • Angie August 28, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

      Thanks Terri. I hope that your training continues to go well!

  2. Fiona August 29, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    This is the first articile I’ve come across on Kinesio Tape, thanks Angie! I was wondering about it after seeing so much of it at the Olympics….another thing I was wondering about is why so many Olympian’s had odd coloured trainers, they seem to be the same style of shoe, maybe it’s used as an optic illusion to confuse competitors in the leading pack as to the runner’s exact placement?

    • Angie August 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      Fiona- Thanks for reading the article. I don’t know if there’s anything psychological behind the brightly colored shoes or not. That’s an interesting thought!

    • yao October 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm #


  3. Jill August 29, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    My chiropractor used it on my arches and I have to say, it felt great! Better than my superfeet insoles. He’s taught me how to do it, but I need to go get the tape yet. However, unless I go the Zola Bud route, you won’t be seeing it so I won’t look “cool” no matter how close I get to looking like an Olympian and wearing as little clothing as possible.

    But I am a big fan.

    • Angie August 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      Hey Jill. Thanks for sharing your experience with the kinesio tape. I’m going to have to suggest to my chiro that he get trained in the application (so he can teach me) 🙂 All the best!

  4. tracie August 29, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    I’ve used the tape for a shoulder injury. When it was first applied I didn’t notice anything. The person applying it messed up one step and removed the tape to start over. As soon as the tape was removed I noticed a huge difference. I definitely noticed increased blood flow to the injured muscles. The best thing about it was that I could continue my normal training schedule so I didn’t lose any days! I also think that it healed faster than if I had taken time off. In less than 5 days I was back to normal. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing the history! 🙂

    • Angie August 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

      Hi Tracie. Thanks for sharing your experience with kinesio tape. It sounds like you had great results. All the best as you continue your training!

  5. Kineisotape January 20, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    Kinesio tape not to mention certainly typically the Flexotaping – myofascial kinesiology taping has developed into rage in your athletic environment. You’d be better with astounded to ascertain joggers because of completely different sections of athletic carrying it again on their wrists, palms, your butt, and various other body parts. Presently asking thats kinesio tape really is not to mention what’s the good carrying it again?
    On top of the athletic exclusive, vigorous therapists, acupuncturists, medical practitioners not to mention chiropractic specialists, families because of routine treks from your life even usage the kinesiotape for the purpose of reducing deliciously carved serious pain and various other afflictions along the lines of problem, ankle ache, spine serious pain, not to mention serious pain through shoulders, neck of, not to mention your butt, and the like.

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