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Kinesio tape, fashion or therapy?

The kinese tapes made a worldwide fury for the first time at the London Olympics in 2012. Titles like “Kinese tape: the new fashion among athletes at the London Games”, makes us doubt whether the news is meant to refer more to a new fashion, or a new treatment! 


Or titles like “Kinesio Taping: the therapeutic tape that is a fever in the London Olympics”, shows that the adhesion was really great.



There are several photographs of athletes where it is possible to confirm adherence to these colored tapes, applied to various parts of the body .




In addition, it was also found that in the 2012 Olympic Games, they were used by athletes of various modalities. 




2008 Beijing Olympic Games


However, before the London Olympics in 2012, at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the kinese tapes already appeared to decorate the bodies of the athletes. 


For example, the black ribbon worn by Kerri Walsh (“ Walsh ’s new mysterious accessory”, as reported) and other Olympic athletes perplexed viewers and led to an increase in sales for the company that produces it, but at the time little was known about its effectiveness. The company that sold these tapes reported that it received 1,600 orders a day, after one of Kerry Walsh's volleyball games , a sharp increase, compared to the usual 250 it received each month. 


The colored tape was actually kinese tape, produced by a company based in Albuquerque called Kinesio. This neuromuscular tape was designed to treat muscle disorders, improving circulation in the joints.


Although other athletes used the kinese tape, in many of them it was covered by the athlete's equipment. 


The advertising did not happen by chance. Kinesio had the "marketing" vision of donating 50,000 rolls of neuromuscular tapes to the Olympic Games, to be used by athletes around the world. It was a high-level marketing strategy at a fraction of the normal cost.


The beginning of the history of the kinese


Continuing our analysis over time, kinese tapes were used for the first time at the Olympics in 1988 by Japanese athletes , and the exhibition allowed the Kinesio tape to expand to Europe and the United States. Many prominent athletes - like Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong and David Beckham - used the tape and found it to be effective.







But was it all about fashion and marketing or is there science behind this treatment?


Yes, there is science and studies behind kinesiotaping and its use is beneficial. The main benefits are:

  • Corrects muscle function The band relieves abnormal muscle tension, enhancing and facilitating its action, when it is weakened.
  • Improves blood and lymphatic circulation - Kinesio promotes circulation at these levels, facilitating the absorption of edema and / or bruising.
  • Relieves pain - After placing these tapes in the affected area, it promotes neurological pain suppression, allowing the normal functioning of different musculoskeletal structures, without limiting movement and reducing or eliminating symptoms such as pain.
  • Reposition the joint subluxation - A joint displaced due to abnormal muscle tension, can be corrected with the band that will assist in the recovery of the fascia and muscle function.
  • Increases proprioception - This happens through the stimulation of mechanoreceptors.


The Kinesio tape was developed 25 years ago by Japanese chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase. The highly elastic tape - which can stretch up to 30 to 40% beyond its length at rest - removes the skin from the muscle fascia and allows the muscle to breathe. In short, it improves lymphatic flow, reducing pain, swelling and muscle fatigue. In addition, the tape does not restrict movement and can be used for several days in a row.


The effectiveness of the Kinesium tape at an early stage


There are few scientific studies to support athletes' belief that the Kinesium tape works. Most of these studies have been carried out on just a few test subjects and have shown that Kinesio tape offers benefits.


The largest study was published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy. Testing the effect of the Kinesio tape on tendonitis of the shoulder. He concluded that the Kinesio tape has an effect in the short term, but not in the long term. 


On the other hand, Dr. Jay H. Williams hypothesizes on his blog that the Kinesio tape has a “placebo effect” on athletes. "It is possible that, over time, scientific studies show the type of effectiveness described by some athletes and therapists," he writes. "But, until then, it is necessary to question whether the Kinesio tape used by Olympic athletes really helps their performance." 


However, there is already more evidence.


Do you want to know the science of using kinesiotapes in an injury to a football player, pictured below? 


Garry Medel suffered a muscle tear greater than 8mm in his left leg, which prevented him from playing. Experts explained how he was able to do it using kinesiotapes. Confirm how it was possible!


A muscle rupture is an injury to muscle tissue caused by the rupture of blood vessels and muscle fibers. The usual treatment that would be prescribed for Garry Medel would be a month of rest, anti-inflammatories and massages to promote muscle healing.


However, Medel continued to play due to a new and innovative treatment. Cotton kinesio tapes and acrylic glue were used, which gives it greater flexibility, and a similarity to muscle fibers. In the case of Medel treatment, the tapes fulfilled two functions: defense and compression .


The crossed blue Kinesio tapes give restraint to the muscle, to prevent the progression of the rupture.

The red kinesio tapes were applied in order to generate the neurological defense mechanism, stimulating the skin sensors to give the brain the feeling that the muscle is tense.

The elastic thigh placed over the kinese tapes, only completes the function of compressing the quadriceps as much as possible so that the fiber works as a whole.


Scheme of the treatment of Garry Medel

The image below is captioned with the points explained above.



In an upcoming article on kinese tapes, we will discuss its application to other modalities, namely in tennis, cycling, gym, athletics. Stay tuned to our blog articles !!


Catarina Vilela - Nurse