Should Endurance Athletes Use Kinesio Tape?

EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer Matt Mosman discusses what kinesio tape is,  what the purported benefits are for runners, cyclists, OCR, and other endurance athletes, and if the available research supports its use.

Full Video Transcription:

Good morning, Family of FAST. Matt Mosman, the chief endurance officer over at EndurElite. Have you ever been running out on the trails or in the gym, and you've seen someone that looks like they're wearing bright, neon tape and wondering why the heck they would have it on?

Well, what you are seeing is something called Kinesio tape. And that's what we're going to discuss today, and if it can provide any endurance enhancing benefits.

What Is Kinesio Tape?

Now, Kinesio tape has been out for a long time. And it has made claims that it can:

  • Increase muscular endurance.
  • Decrease fatigue.
  • And a bunch of other claims that basically will help you perform better when you're running or cycling or doing an OCR race.

But is there any truth to this or is it just a bunch of bunk? So as always, at EndurElite, we're not going to go based on the broscience, we're going to look at the real science.

What Does The Science Say About Kinesio Tape?

And a study was just published examining the effects of Kinesio tape on endurance performance in cyclists. And I'm going to reference it throughout this video.

So, it was published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research," and it was titled, "Short-Term Delayed Effects of Kinesio Taping on Sprint Cycling Performance." And I'm going to read this verbatim now, the abstract of the study, so you can understand what's going on. And then, we'll come back around and discuss it.

What Was The Purpose Of The Study On KT Tape?

So the aim of the study was to assess short-term delayed effects of Kinesio tape on maximal cycling performance. A design with repeated measures was used. Fifteen healthy, trained subjects, so not a lot, underwent three conditions:

  1. No Kinesio tape or without Kinesio tape.
  2. One with Kinesio tape applied longitudinally on the side, so the correct way you want to apply Kinesio tape.
  3. And sham taping, Kinesio tape applied horizontally on the side. So when they say "sham tapping," this is our placebo group, and they applied it horizontally, which is the totally incorrect way to apply Kinesio tape.

Each subject performed two sets of 3 by 6-second sprints, separated by 3 minutes, interspersed by 30 minutes of rest on a cycle ergometer.

So they did these tests, they rested for 30 minutes, and then they repeated it.

Allometric scaling of peak power and average power values were computed and analyzed for each sprint performance. So, the first test, rested the 30 minutes, and then after the second test.

Both peak power and average power decreased significantly after 30 minutes between Set 1 and Set 2 in all conditions. So the group that wasn't wearing Kinesio tape, the one that was wearing it correctly, and the other group that was not wearing it correctly.

With a greater decrease in the no-Kinesio tape condition compared with the Kinesio tape when applied correctly and the sham-Kinesio tape condition where it was not applied significantly.

No significant differences were observed between Kinesio tape, and the sham conditions, or in the case where the Kinesio tape was applied incorrectly.

Now, I want you to remember this part because it's important.

What Were The Results Of The Kinesio Tape Study?

So the authors concluded that the application of Kinesio tape on the thigh muscles attenuated the performance decrease that occurred after 30 minutes of rest between the two sets compared with the no-Kinesio tape condition. This finding suggests athletes may use Kinesio tape to better manage their performance during delays and competition effects. 

Why This Study On KT Tape Is Mis-Leading

So that's a whole lot of information to digest. But what the author is basically saying is that the cyclists are going to perform better when there's rest between, you know, hard sets whether it's a time trial or stage competitions.

If they wear the Kinesio tape, and they rest and perform again, they're going to perform better. So while this study looks really good on the surface, there is a major, major, major flaw with it.

And it comes back down to the condition where the Kinesio tape was applied correctly, and where it was not applied correctly, the sham condition.

And if you remember, I did repeat it just a second ago, one of the statements the author made was that there was no significant differences observed between the Kinesio tape and the sham conditions. So what the heck does it mean?

Any Benefits From Kinesio Tape Are Probably Due To A Placebo Effect

Well, it meant whether the Kinesio tape was applied correctly or incorrectly, it all did the same thing.

So, in sum, what this means is that this study, basically, has demonstrated that Kinesio tape really doesn't provide any performance-enhancing benefits demonstrated by the science. It's more just a placebo effect.

Again, this is just one study, but it just goes to show you kind of gotta dig in deeper on certain subjects to get to the real answer, and not always trust science to provide the right answer.

So, again, when you're wearing Kinesio tape, maybe it does provide some performance-enhancing benefits, but it's mostly just the placebo effects, which I'm not going argue, there's lots of power to be had in the placebo effect.

So, that is all I have today on Kinesio tape. If you like it, go ahead and wear it. Just know that's probably a placebo effect.

Now, if you want other videos like this on endurance training, nutrition, supplementation, and everything else in between, subscribe to the EndurElite YouTube channel or head on over to the EndurElite blog at www.endurelite.com.

Get social with us on Instagram, and the Family of FAST Facebook group. And until next time, my endurance friends, stay fueled, stay focused, stay fast, and stay informed.

About The Author Matt Mosman - Spearfish, South Dakota

Matt Mosman South Dakota

Matt Mosman (MS, CISSN, CSCS) is a research scientist, endurance athlete, and the founder and Chief Endurance Officer at EndurElite. Matt holds his B.S. in Exercise Science from Creighton University and his M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of California.  Matt and his family reside in Spearfish South Dakota where they enjoy running, mountain biking, camping, and all the outdoor adventures Spearfish has to offer.

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