KT Tape—Does it Work?

Article by: Matt Sicat

Every athlete knows what it’s like to be injured. Things like sore muscles, sprains, strains, worn out tendons and torn ligaments plague athletes on a regular basis. As an athlete, they’re told to listen to their bodies, no matter how badly they want to keep playing.

The hype for Kinesiology Tape (KT Tape) began last year. Bearcat athletes could be easily recognized by the stripes of brightly colored tape running down parts of their bodies. Marketed for athletes who seek to retain top performance, it’s no surprise that Bearcat athletes make use of newest technologies to support their injuries. But does KT Tape really work?

KT Tape claims to treat various athletic injuries and other physical disorders by “creating neuromuscular feedback (called proprioception) that inhibits (relaxes) or facilitates stronger firing of muscles and tendons.” The tape is made up of “reinforced 100% cotton sheaths” and “ultra-durable synthetic fabric” that is significantly more durable than standard white athletic tape. The tape can also stretch up to 140% of its original length. Consequently, the tape can “recoil” and create a pulling force on the skin that it is applied to. (kttape.com)

While the company has many claims as to what this seemingly magical tape can do — increase muscular strength, prevent injury and enhance performance — recent studies have found that the effectiveness of KT Tape is “trivial.” Moreover, the same study concluded that:

“KT Tape had some substantial effects on muscle activity, but it was unclear whether these changes were beneficial or harmful. In conclusion, there was little quality evidence to support the use of KT over other types of elastic taping in the management or prevention of sports injuries” (pubmed.gov)

Despite the lack of sufficient evidence of KT Tape’s effectiveness, there is one section in both the medical study and KT website that concur. A short sentence following the dizzying scientific vocabulary of the company’s website reads: “KT Tape gives you confidence to perform your best.” (kttape.com) Similarly, the study states that what many of the athletes who were tested may have been simply experiencing what is known as the placebo effect—medication designed to work by intentionally deceiving the recipient. (pubmed.gov)

While it’s safe to say that there isn’t much evidence supporting the physical benefits of KT Tape, it may play a large role in instilling confidence within athletes on and off the field. So when looking back at the question, “Does KT tape work?”, it seems reasonable to answer, yes! If KT Tape helps instill confidence in athletes, and confidence leads to better performance, then it is safe to say that KT Tape works, albeit in a very different fashion to what it was originally designed for.

Image Source:

“Knee Pain Holding You Back? Easy Stretches for Bad Knees.” KT Tape. KT Tape, 29 Mar. 2011. Web. 14 Jan 2015. <http://www.kttape.com/knee-pain-holding-you-back-easy-stretches-for-bad-knees&gt;.