Kinesio Tape for Athletes: A Big Help, or Hype?
Are there medical benefits to the strips of tape used by many Olympic athletes?
Experts Skeptical continued...
Brewer says if athletes think the tape will help support their muscles, then that can boost their confidence. "I think if you can get somebody in the right frame of mind, then that can make a big difference on what they do.
"But for me, there isn't any firm evidence yet to suggest the tape really does work, other than the anecdotal evidence from some athletes who say: 'Yes, it works for us.'"
Philip Newton, physiotherapist and director of Lilleshall Sports Injury Rehab, agrees the benefits may be in the mind: "My view is that Kinesio tape probably has a significant placebo effect," he says in an email. "The placebo effect is not fully understood but it is generally accepted that any treatment/intervention will elicit a placebo response, which has complex cultural and contextual elements."
He says the design helps, too: "I believe that part of the genius behind the phenomenal commercial success of Kinesio taping was the idea to manufacture it in highly visible colors. This is in contrast to the traditional colors used for traditional types of tape/bandage.
"Many sports performers have historically chosen to hide any strapped areas of their bodies so as not to advertise any areas of potential physical weakness. In stark contrast, many contemporary sports people do exactly the opposite with Kinesio tape. It seems that for many it is a badge of honor.
"Maybe some wear it as a means of explaining away any possible future failures or defeats? Or maybe they want to demonstrate that they have the grit and determination to push through the adversity of injury."
Kinesio Taping by Physiotherapists
Gavin Daglish is a physiotherapist at Mike Varney Physiotherapy in Harlow, Essex, U.K. How effective does he find Kinesio tape? "Really, really effective," he says. "I've found it to give, not instant, but over the next 24-48 hours, to give fairly good pain relief."
It's not just athletes he's used the tape on: "I've used it on a 45-year-old builder who's got lower back pain. It's actually quite effective with it.