Kinesio Tape is one of the many brands of athletic tape currently on the market. The tape is elastic, which allows it to, “mimic the texture and elasticity of human skin,” according to the company website. Kinesio Tape proponents claim that it can help the body in many ways including reducing inflammation, returning the body to homeostasis, and minimizing the risk of injury like to the shoulders and wrists, but much of these claims are questionable.
Athletic tape is a common piece to athletics and has become somewhat part of an athlete’s uniform. Although regular athletic tape is still commonly used, there are many things to think about when deciding whether to go traditional or with an elastic tape like Kinesio Tape.
Regular athletic tape is often thinner than Kinesio Tape, which makes them more pliable and easier to manipulate around the body. When using regular athletic tape, using a pre-wrap or pre-tape spray is best to create a barrier between the skin and the adhesive tape, making it more comfortable for the athlete. This isn’t needed when using an elastic tape like Kinesio Tape.
Another brand of kinesiology tape is KT Tape. There are many similarities between the two brands as both websites claim that their tapes are latex-free, hypoallergenic, water and sweat proof and can be worn for multiple days. Both brands also offer pre-cut and uncut versions of the tape, allowing consumers to have more options.
If Kinesio Tape works as they say, it would be ideal for taping ankles because it not only may prevent injury, but in the event of an ankle sprain for minor injury, it can relieve inflammation which will help the swelling to reduce and range of motion to return.
How do you apply Kinesio Tape to the ankle?
Kinesio Tape has pre-cut tapes that are designed specifically for taping ankles after a sprain. There is also an instructional video on their website that shows you how to properly tape your ankle.
- Apply the base of one cut strip to the external malleolus.
- Pull the tail of the tape with 5-10% tension across the top of the foot so the center of the tape covers the inflammation.
- Spread the tape evenly outward starting with the outer slits then gently rub the tape to make sure the adhesive activates.
- Apply the second cut strip to the anterior and slightly lateral side of the ankle joint, again with 5-10% tension.
- Spread the second strip the same as you did the first, and gently rub the tape.
- Apply the base of the third cut strip between the first and second strips on the side of the toe and pull the tail with 0-5% tension between the tails of the first two strips.
- Spread the third strip the same as the first two and gently rub the tape.
Does it matter how you apply Kinesio Tape to the ankle?
Research on different methods of taping ankles was difficult to find and there may not be any published yet, but there is research about different methods of taping knees. One study compared the Kinesio Taping, McConnell Taping, and sham taping techniques. The study had measured participants’ pain in their knees when they performed various squats.
The study found that there is no significant difference in the taping method. The ankle could follow the same path and find that specific methods of ankle taping all produce similar outcomes, just like knee taping.
How do you remove Kinesio Tape?
There are a few options when removing Kinesio tape to reduce irritation.
- Option 1
- Apply baby oil to tape and allow the tape to soak for 15 minutes.
- Hold skin and gently peel the tape off.
- Option 2
- Soak the tape in the shower.
- Lather the tape in soap.
- Hold the skin and gently peel the tape off.
Since Kinesio Tape is waterproof and can stay on for several days, the adhesive is stronger than the average band-aid or athletic tape. Be sure to:
- Shave the area in which you will be applying the tape.
- Peel tape in the same direction as hair growth.
Does ankle taping with Kinesio Tape help improve performance and function?
When it comes to ankle taping correlating with performance and function, research is split.
One study said that “…evidence does not support or encourage the use of Kinesio taping applied to the ankle for improvements in functional performance…”
The researchers analyzed 2,684 people with meta-analyses ranging from 27 to 179. They then compared Kinesio taping to other types of athletic taping and found no significant benefit in multiple tests including balance, jump distance, and range of motion.
Another article from PainScience chalks up Kinesio Tape and other kinesiology tapes to the placebo effect.
“Stick some tape on a bad knee, make sure the patient expects it to be therapeutic, and chances are good that the patient will feel a bit better… for a while,” said Paul Ingraham of PainScience.
On the contrary, a Chinese study found that using Kinesio tape is “superior” to regular athletic tape in both preventing ankle injuries and helping to rehabilitate ankle sprains.
The study compared Kinesio taping with other forms of athletic taping (non-elastic taping, placebo taping, and Kinesio taping) in both healthy and injured patients. The researchers searched national databases and focused on 10 studies. The researchers based their data on the Star Excursion Balance Test results and extracted range of motion, and vertical jump height.
Despite their suggested “superior” findings, the researchers found that along with the added benefits of Kinesio taping, there was “no significant effect on range of motion.”