We began to see it on beach volleyball players and weight lifters in the Olympics, now kinesio tape in every color and pattern imaginable has made its way into many other places.
How can kinesio tape on my skin help heal injuries or increase my performance?
I get this question all the time and can be answered by looking at two principles of biomechanics.
1. The role of the nerve system in muscle activity
2. The role of muscles in joint motion
1. Your nervous system controls and coordinates all of the functions of your body. This includes muscle activity. Your muscles know what to do based on a two-way communication with your brain – brain tells muscle, “do this“. Muscle tells brain, “did that, now what?” To understand how kinesio tape affects the nerve system and it’s control of muscle function, we need to add another layer of communication that happens – the pathway between the nerve endings in the skin and the brain.
Stimulation of the nerve endings in the skin can change the way the brain talks to the muscles!
For an example of how stimulation of nerve endings in hair follicles in the skin can affect behavior, watch this
2. Once we’ve changed the input to the muscles from the brain, the muscles begin to change how a joint functions. This can work with large joints like the knee or shoulder, as well as small joints like spinal facets.
Several studies have been done to evaluate the effects of kinesio tape – none of them have conclusively shown any benefit. If you want to know if it works, ask those who are wearing it – every one of them will give you a big thumbs up!