Is KT Tape a Cure?

chris taping plantar

Christopher W. Harper, PT and KT Tape Medical Advisory Board Member, answers some of the most frequently asked questions about KT Taping:

1. Is KT Taping a “cure” for an injury?

I do not use the word “cure” with KT Tape.  Even as a practicing therapist I may say that I assisted the patient in solving a problem related to mechanics or inflammation.  If a runner uses ibuprofen and symptoms improve, this does not equate to a cure.  Use of the tape does not replace other treatment or common sense but rather serves as a modality in prevention or recovery most often in conjunction with standard care.  KT Tape can be used to aid the athlete during their work day, training session, or event.

2. Does the tape actually do anything, or does it just remind you to do something?

In short, to some degree, both.  Most athletes, with the tape properly applied by a therapist, will hardly notice the tape during their activity, so to say it has a conscious influence on the athlete is not always the case.  Appropriate taping cues motor response through somatosensory (information received in the skin and deep tissues) feedback in theory.  This can change mechanics and some of the causative factors of the injury.

Kinesiology taping “reminds you (though be it mostly on a subconscious level) of what you should be doing”.  To put it simply, having the tape on your skin is much like a physical therapist providing tactile cues for patients through movement, to provide a kinesthetic sense in either inhibiting or facilitating muscle activity.

3. What additional circulatory benefits does the tape provide that aren’t already provided by running itself?

Lymphatic taping techniques have been studied to show improvement in lymphatic flow, but lymphatic applications are not taught to the public because assessment by a certified therapist is recommended.  Lymphatic techniques work best with movement including exercise if the activity is not exacerbating the problem.

4. Is thin stretchy tape really strong enough to be effective at supporting muscles or mechanical correction during running?

Mechanical correction is achieved more through cueing the body.  The connective tissue (such as fascia) is most likely what is influenced by the tape rather than physically supporting a muscle.  Support is often the term the public uses to describe the sensation of the tape on skin, similar to the sensation felt with a neoprene sleeve which does not offer actual structural support.

This sensation of support is due to changes in proprioception, the unconscious perception of spatial orientation and movement from stimuli within the body.  Simply put, proprioception is the body’s sense of how it should move to function properly, and this sense is enhanced by tape being applied properly over the skin and underlying structures.

Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape has also been used by healthcare providers and the public alike for a variety of other taping methodologies due to its breathable cotton weave, application bias (can corner/bend the tape), elasticity, and adherent qualities when applied properly.  Providers have used this tape for a combination of taping techniques including McConnell, mechanical assist, edema and functional correction applications with great results.

In conclusion, taping techniques can be used very effectively by clinicians in treating athletes in the injury recovery process.  But once the tape leaves the clinical setting it does not lose its ability to be an effective tool for the public.  I instruct my own patients how to self-tape for various issues in conjunction with a specific home exercise program to foster empowerment of the patient to self-manage their goals and conditions as appropriate.

For more information on KT Tape and application instructions, visit www.kttape.com/instructions.

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