4 Shocking Truths About Kinesio Tape And What the Research Really Says

KT tape, also goes by kinesio tape or rock tape, is an elastic cotton tape.You can find it in most pharmacies. You can see it being worn by athletes but it is also growing popularity with the general public to help with their aches and pains. It doesn’t limit your ROM like traditional white tape. It is advertised to provide support and aid with pain.

Did you know that KT tape isn’t all that it is cracked up to be? The science behind some of these claims isn’t very strong. In this blog, we are going to cover the research that discusses the proven effectiveness of KT tape. Some of the proposed benefits of kinesio tape have been improved strength, decrease swelling, decrease pain as well as improve activation of muscles. 

Kinesio Tape
Improving Strength

Kinesio tape has no proven benefit to increasing your strength. There is also no science that proves that muscles activate and move better with the use of the tape. There was a study by Karen A Keenan et al. Phys Ther Sport. 2017 Mar. that looked at kinesio tape altering shoulder strength. The study showed that kinesio taping does not alter shoulder strength, shoulder proprioception, or scapular kinematics in healthy, physically active subjects and subjects with impingement syndromes.

The only way to improve your strength is by strength training. It takes about 3 weeks for our body to learn the movement as well as to have the neurological system activate during the movement. Then it takes about 6-7 weeks for strength training to take effect on the muscle cells. What this all means is that it takes time. There is no quick fix to increasing strength. 

Improving Pain and Injury

There haven’t been any proven benefits to any type of injuries from a long term perspective .A systematic review of the effectiveness of kinesio taping for musculoskeletal injury by Mehran Mostafavifar et al. in Phys Sportsmed. 2012 Nov. found 6 studies. 2 looked at lower body injuries, 2 at whiplash and 2 at chronic low back. 

The studies that looked at the lower body and low back injuries showed no change over the shame kinesio tape jobs. One interesting point was that the review showed that the KT tape helped with whiplash injuries in the first 24 hours. The study also then concluded, just like with the other injuries, there was no long term benefits.

Improving Confidence With Kinesio Tape

I already have highlighted that it has no proven benefits to improving strength, pain or injury. Here is the truth, I still use it. I use it with patients and athletes to help them improve their confidence. Sometimes patients and athletes are nervous to return to an activity they used to do before they got injured. Kinesio tape is a good way to help them.

The use of the kinesio tape effectively and to decrease future dependance; the reasons for use have to be discussed. The  patient needs to know when to use it, where to use it and why to use it. Making sure that the patient knows that it won’t help with improving their strength or injury is also key.

Swelling Management

I use kinesio to also help manage swelling. There is a study that looks at those who have had a knee replacement and the use of kinesio tape to help manage swelling. The swelling showed that kinesio tape is effective in managing swelling and it can be used on a daily basis. Honestly, I use it mostly on shoulders and ankles. Clinically, I’ve seen it help manage swelling in new sprained ankles and swelling in post operative shoulders. It’s not my go to but I use it when conventional means aren’t working.


Kinesio tape can be a useful tool if used correctly with the proper intentions. Kinesio tape does not facilitate better muscle activation or improve strength. Kinesio tape can be used to help build patient’s confidence as well as swelling management. 

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