Author: Kandeija Bagurusi
Introduction Within our society, there is a constant desire to further enhance athletic performance through advancements in technology. A little over a decade ago, athletic taping and specifically Kinesio Tape gained popularity within the United States, although the method originated in the 1970s. Today, Kinesio Tape has been used as a means for enhancing athletic performance, and prevention or treatment of sports injuries by physical therapists, athletic trainers, and throughout the healthcare field. The use of Kinesio Tape has stirred controversy over its efficacy, as we will discuss below, especially pertaining to its ability to enhance athletic performance .
The History of Kinesio In 1970, Japanese Chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase, developed the Kinesio Taping Method to fill a gap in treatment options of specifically tissue and muscle injuries (Kinesio). His goals were to find a way to recreate the body’s natural healing process and extend treatment benefits beyond the clinic (Kinesio). Kinesio Tape is made of polymer elastic strand wrapped by 100% cotton fibers which causes it to be water-resistant and is approximately the same thickness as the skin and mimics its elasticity (Nakajima & Baldridge, 2013). It can be stretched to 140% of its original length and can be worn for several days without the need of removal (Bicici et al., 2012). Kinesio Tape is 100% latex free, and its adhesive properties are 100% medical grade acrylic which has heat-activated glue (Nakajima & Baldridge, 2013). It can be worn during intense exercise, showering, bathing, or swimming, and can stay on the body for approximately 3-5 days without compromising the adhesive quality (Nakajima & Baldridge, 2013).
Proper taping technique and application of Kinesio Tape dictates the function it will provide. According to the product creators, Kinesio Tape is hypothesized: to provide a positional stimulus through the skin; to align the tissue surrounding organs; to create more space by lifting tissues above areas of pain/inflammation; to provide sensory stimulation to assist or limit motion; and to assist in the removal of swelling caused by excess fluid by trapped in tissues throughout the body (Nakajima & Baldridge, 2013).
Kinesio Tape is claimed to have beneficial physiological effects on the skin, lymphatic and circulatory system, fascia, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints according to the manufactures of the tape (Kinesio). These physiological effects seem beneficial in a rehabilitative environment, or as a means for sports injury prevention, however, how does Kinesio Tape impact individuals on an athletic performance level, specifically vertical jumping performance?
According to an article published in the BioMedical Engineering OnLine, researchers studied the effects of Kinesio Tape on muscle activity and vertical jump performance. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of Kinesio Tape on the calf muscles during a maximal vertical jump and it was predicted that it would increase muscle activity and cause a positive effect to jump height (Huang et al., 2011). A total of thirty-one healthy adults ages 21-31 years old (19 males and 12 females) participated in this study (Huang et al., 2011). Muscle activity was measured using an Electromyography (EMG) in the gastrocnemius, tibialis anterior, and soleus (Huang et al., 2011). All subjects executed the vertical jump tests prior and during elastic taping, and results indicated an increase in gastrocnemius EMG although, vertical jump results showed that Kinesio Tape had no significant difference in jump height (Huang et al., 2011).
Furthermore, another article studied the effects of Kinesio Tape on vertical jump and dynamic postural control. The purpose of this study was to determine if the application of Kinesio Tape had an effect on vertical jump and dynamic postural control in healthy young individuals (Nakajima & Baldridge, 2013). A total of fifty-two individuals, (28 males and 24 females) participated in this study. A single-leg vertical jump test was performed, and The Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT) was used to collect the participants’ dynamic postural control (Nakajima MA, Baldridge C). Results indicated a statistically significant effect of Kinesio Tape on dynamic postural control, but no significant difference regarding vertical jump performance between both genders (Nakajima & Baldridge, 2013 ).
The previous studies stated above show findings that Kinesio Tape has physiological benefits; however, they show no significant differences regarding athletic performance specifically, vertical jump height performance. Vertical jumping is an important movement often seen in various sports including basketball, volleyball, rugby, and track. Understanding the effects Kinesio Tape has on vertical jumping performance can help researchers, athletes, and coaches utilize other interventions when trying to improve athletic performance.
Regarding improving jump height performance, Kinesio Tape does not improve one’s ability to jump higher. Nonetheless, there are many other benefits that Kinesio Tape can still provide to athletes that may help their overall athletic ability and performance. If you are an athlete looking for a different prevention or treatment approach, then maybe Kinesio Tape is right for you. However, if you’re looking to enhance your vertical jump height performance, I suggest trying other interventions.
Bicici S, Karatas N, Baltaci G. Effect of athletic taping and kinesiotaping® on measurements of functional performance in basketball players with chronic inversion ankle sprains. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012;7(2):154-166.
Huang, CY., Hsieh, TH., Lu, SC. et al. Effect of the Kinesio tape to muscle activity and vertical jump performance in healthy inactive people. BioMed Eng OnLine 10, 70 (2011).
“Our History.” Kinesio, 15 Dec. 2020, https://kinesiotaping.com/about/our-history/.
Nakajima MA, Baldridge C. The effect of kinesio® tape on vertical jump and dynamic postural control. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013;8(4):393-406.