Kinesio Taping

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Kinesio Taping Method is a therapeutic tool utilised by rehabilitation specialists in all programs (paediatric,[1] geriatric, orthopaedic,[2] neurological, oncology and others) and levels of care (acute care,[3] inpatient rehabilitation,[4] outpatient, home care and Day Rehab). The idea of using elastic tape to mimic the therapist's hands was first presented by Dr Kenzo Kase in the 1970s. Since then, it became the modality used in pain management[5], soft tissue injury[6], tissues and joints malalignment[1], oedema[7], and more. Kinesio Taping Method utilises four types of Kinesio Tex Tapes, each with specific properties designed for use on fragile, sensitive skin or applied with higher tensions. Kinesio Taping Method has also effectively treated animals[8] and two special tapes are used: Kinesio Equine and Kinesio Canine.

Properties[edit | edit source]

Kinesio Tex Tape contains either 100% cotton and elastic fibres or a blend of polyester and cotton with elastic fibres. The latter is preferable for Kinesio Taping application on sensitive skin when higher tensions on the tape are needed for the desired outcome. The tape is applied on the paper backing using an acrylic adhesive with 10-15% stretch. This amount of stretch is used with some Kinesio Taping techniques and is called "paper off tension". Other characteristics of Kinesio Tex Tape include[9]:

  • Ability to stretch to 120-140% of its original length
  • Recoil back to the anchor that is applied without stretch
  • Heat-activated adhesive
  • Hypoallergenic dyes that make the tape safe for most users
  • Latex-free
  • Drying time after being wet is about 5-10 minutes
  • Can be worn for several days

Type of Kinesio Tex Tapes[edit | edit source]

Currently, 4 types of tapes are available for Kinesio Taping Method applications for humans and 2 types for animals. Each clinician can choose the most appropriate type of tape based on the desired outcome and the client's skin condition. When an untrained individual considers taping, it is suggested to use Classic or Performance+ Tape.

The following are tape types and their characteristic:

  1. Kinesio Tex Classic: the original tape that received several upgrades over time, the most universal as it can be used for all applications and ideally on healthy skin.
  2. Kinesio Tex Performance+: different, looser pattern on the tread, polyester, and cotton blend best for sensitive skin when higher tensions on the tape are desired.
  3. Kinesio Tex Gold: special distribution of adhesive allowing good attachment without requiring large surface area, good for low tension applications and available only for trained professionals.
  4. Kinesio Tex Gold Light Touch Plus: adhesive distributed to allow gentle grip, does not last as long as other types. It is used for short-term applications and usually for children and older adults with fragile skin.
  5. Kinesio Equine: developed to allow the Kinesio Taping method to be used on horses, can be applied directly on horses' hair, and its taste prevents animals from chewing it.
  6. Kinesio Canine is used on dogs and works well with dogs' hair.

Theory[edit | edit source]

Kinesio Taping theory is based on the neurophysiological mechanisms and the effect of mechanical stimuli on various systems in the body:

Central Nervous System (CNS): Kinesio Tex Tape applied on the skin with varying degrees of stretch creates a mechanical stimulus and activates an afferent pathway to CNS


Skin: Kinesio Tex Tape applied on the skin with a low degree of stretch changes the density and the concentration of the tissue in the dermis and epidermis.[11] This mechanical stimulus converted into electrical impulses is called mechanotransduction[12] and can produce cell movement.[13][14]Kinesio Tex Tape produces pressure and stretch on the skin that may be able to stimulate mechanoreceptors. This stimulus interacts with CNS and modulates pain responses.[15]


Fascia: the application of Kinesio Tex Tape changes the tension elements in tissues to encourage homeostasis. The tension imposed from the tape frees the fascia of any movement limitations through the movement of the skin relative to the target tissue.[17] [9]


Lymphatic and Circulatory System: the application of Kinesio Tex Tape facilitates the opening of microvalves due to a dynamic pressure variation due to alteration in skin density. This decompression activates lymphatics in the dermis and improves lymphatic flow. The end result is a tissue inflammation and swelling reduction.[15]It is also theorised that lifting the skin detaches filaments that attach the skin to endothelial cells of the lymphatic and capillary beds. This is proposed to create channels that allow lymph to drain, thus reducing swelling and allowing increased blood flow to the area.[19]

Basics of Application[edit | edit source]

  • Complete the patient's assessment to identify the most appropriate application. Kinesio Taping Method-specific assessment tools should be included in this process.
  • Follow contraindications and precautions when choosing Kinesio Taping Method
  • Apply the tape on dry skin, free of oils and lotion
  • Remove body hair, if possible, by trimming or shaving the area
  • Follow the tension guidelines
  • Round all the edges of the tape to prevent premature peeling
  • Avoid touching the adhesive side of the tape after removing the backing, as this may decrease the adhesive strength on the skin
  • Once the tape is applied, activate the heat-sensitive adhesive by rubbing the surface of the tape for a few seconds 
  • Reassess to determine post-application results
  • Inform the patient to defer activities that cause perspiration for 30 minutes if possible
  • Inform the patient to remove the tape if itching or burning sensation occurs or if the pain increases
  • Teach the patient and caregiver how to remove the tape if needed
  • Provide the patient with informed consent and an information sheet with a description including:
    • sign and symptoms of skin irritation and skin allergy
    • instruction on tape removal
    • information on how long to wear the tape
    • physiotherapist contact information

Contraindications and Precautions[edit | edit source]

It is up to individual physiotherapists to use their judgement when choosing Kinesio Taping Method. The decision must be based on the physiotherapist's clinical experience and experience with taping gained by attending Kinesio Taping Method certification courses.

General contraindications are:

  • Malignancy
  • Infection, cellulitis
  • Open wound
  • DVT
  • Previous allergic reaction to Kinesio Tex Tape

General precautions are:

Types of Applications[edit | edit source]

Each physiological system is targeted with a specific application that can be described by:

Type of tape used (Classic, Perfomance+, Gold, Gold Light Touch Plus, EDF)

Tape cut (Y, I, X, Fan, Web, Donut, Jelly Fish, Snowflake, EDF)

Y cut
I cut
X cut
Fan cut

Tape length and width (eg. four squares, 2.5 cm)

Technique used (EDF, Fascia Correction, Mechanical Correction, Space Correction, Lymphatic Correction, Overactive or Underactive Muscle, Ligament and Tendon Correction)

Patient's position during application

Tension used on the tape (described in %)

Tape direction (proximal or distal)

Example: Kinesio Tex Performance+, one 6 squares, 5 cm I strip, Mechanical correction with 75% tension applied in the middle for patella stabilisation. The patient's initial position is supine, with the knee flexed 20 degrees.


Type of Application Stretch[edit | edit source]

The target tissue should be elongated before the tape application.  Various amounts of stretch on the tape can be used depending on the tissue we choose to affect.

  • Ultra light 0-5% (epidermis)
  • Super light 5-10% (dermis)
  • Paper-off 10-15%(superficial fascia)
  • Moderate 25-50% (deep fascia)
  • Severe 75% (tendon)
  • Full 100% (ligament)

For percentage, stretch refers to the percentage of the available stretch.

Tape direction and Technique used[edit | edit source]

The tape direction and technique used are determined based on tissue assessment. Kinesio Taping Method suggests two assessment tools: Manual Direction Test (MDT) for the tissue and Manual Direction Test (MDT) for the muscle. MDT for the tissue includes three components: glide, decompression, and compression. MDT for the muscle has one component: glide

Clinical Implications[edit | edit source]

Level of evidence - varies[edit | edit source]

There is high inconsistency with research on the Kinesio Taping Method's effectiveness. Several factors contribute to this problem:

  • Research is completed by untrained clinicians, lack of information in the methodology section about persons conducting research and their experience in the Kinesio Taping Method.
  • Inconsistent protocols or protocols based on the technique described in the Kinesio Taping manual are used. Kinesio Taping application should be chosen based on the patient's assessment and targeting the primary tissue affected. Example: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) can have twenty different aetiologies, from problems with foot alignment to trunk muscle strength, requiring completely different taping applications.
  • Other types of tape, no Kinesio Tex Tape, are used for research purposes, but Kinesio Tex Tape properties are utilised when describing the methodology. Each brand of elastic tape has different paper-off tension, the amount and quality of adhesive vary, and the quality of elastic is different.[21]
  • Reviews of the studies evaluating the effects of the Kinesio Taping and Kinesiology Methods are often included as one method when these are two different techniques that use different types of tape. Kinesiology taping originated from the Kinesio Taping Method and was based on the same principles. The two methods, however, cannot be considered the same and cannot be used interchangeably as it happens in the research literature now because:
    • In Kinesiology taping, various tapes are used, from K-Active, AcuTop, and Theraband to the brand-specific for a country. Still, stretching rules for application techniques are based on Kinesio Tex Tape. None of the above-mentioned tapes has been tested for its stretched properties. Therefore, clinicians do not know if 15% stretch on K-Active equals 15 % stretch on AcuTop. The amount of stretch is one of the main principles because targeting specific tissue is the treatment goal.
    • Kinesio Taping Method has evolved over the past 20 years from a mechanical effect on the tissue to the neurophysiological one based on the discoveries in cell biology, fascia and mechanotransduction. The Kinesiology taping principles remained unchanged.
  • Research is conducted on healthy subjects when the primary effect of the Kinesio Taping Method is to facilitate tissue return to homeostasis. Kinesio Taping is a method to assist with musculoskeletal system damage.[22]

What does the evidence support?[edit | edit source]

  • Improve Function
  • Decrease Oedema/Swelling
  • Decrease Pain[23]
  • Improvement in Quality of Life (QL)

Pros[edit | edit source]

  • Some evidence proves theories
  • Provides an optional modality for treatment
  • Applicable to multiple patient populations at various stages of rehabilitation
  • Decrease in pain encourages movement
  • Patient can be taught self-application techniques

Cons[edit | edit source]

  • Inconsistent body of evidence to prove theories
  • Can be expensive when used for a prolonged period of time
  • Can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction to tape

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Dixit J, Roy S.Effect of Neuromuscular Taping Along with Reactive Postural Adjustment and Anticipatory Postural Adjustment in Improving Sitting Balance in Children with Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy. IJHSR 2018;8(11):116-125.
  2. Arrebola LS, Teixeira de Carvalho R, Yan Lam Wun P, Rizzi de Oliveira P, Firmo dos Santos J, Gonçalves Coutinho de Oliveira V, Pinfildi CE. Investigation of different application techniques for Kinesio Taping® with an accompanying exercise protocol for improvement of pain and functionality in patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome: A pilot study. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 2020, 24 (1):47-55,
  3. Brockmann R, Klein HM. Pain-diminishing effects of Kinesio® taping after median sternotomy. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice 2018; 34(6): 433-441.
  4. Gallagher J. Anterior and posterior diaphragm Kinesio taping for intractable hiccups after ischemic stroke: A case report. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Aug;97(34):e11934.
  5. Donec V, Kubilius R. The effectiveness of Kinesio Taping® for pain management in knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial. Ther Adv Musculoskelet Dis. 2019 Aug 29;11:1759720X19869135.
  6. Wang CK, Fang YD, Lin LC, Lin CF, Kuo LC, Chiu FM, Chen CH. Magnetic Resonance Elastography in the Assessment of Acute Effects of Kinesio Taping on Lumbar Paraspinal Muscles. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2019 Apr;49(4):1039-1045.
  7. Tantawy SA, Abdelbasset WK, Nambi G, Kamel DM. Comparative Study Between the Effects of Kinesio Taping and Pressure Garment on Secondary Upper Extremity Lymphedema and Quality of Life Following Mastectomy: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Integrative Cancer Therapies. January 2019.
  8. Wójcik M. The Use of Physical Therapy Procedures in the Treatment of Soft Tissue Injuries in a Horse: A Case Study. J Vet Sci Med Diagn 2017; 6:4.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Kase K, Wallis J, Kase T. Clinical therapeutic applications of the Kinesio taping method. Kinesio 2013, 3rd edition.
  10. Gustavo Mendoza. Kinesio effect on cortical brain activity fMRI . Available from:[last accessed 11/11/2021]
  11. Kafa N, Citaker S, Omeroglu S, Peker T, Coskun N, Diker S. Effects of kinesiologic taping on epidermal-dermal distance, pain, oedema and inflammation after experimentally induced soft tissue trauma. Physiother Theory Pract. 2015;31(8):556-61.
  12. Fabiana M, Perestrelo AR, Vinarský V, Pagliari S, Forte G.Cellular Mechanotransduction: From Tension to Function. Frontiers in Physiology 2018;8:824   
  13. Lo CM, Wang HB, Dembo M, Wang YL. Cell movement is guided by the rigidity of the substrate. Biophys J. 2000 Jul;79(1):144-52.
  14. Hale NA, Yang Y, Rajagopalan P. Cell migration at the interface of a dual chemical-mechanical gradient. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2010 Aug;2(8):2317-24.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Wu W-T, Hong C-Z, Chou L-W. The Kinesio Taping Method for Myofascial Pain Control. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015; Article ID 950519.
  16. Mechanotransduction Lecture by Codi Elliott. Available from:[last accessed 14/11/2021]
  17. Abu-Hijleh MF, Roshier AL, Al-Shboul Q, Dharap AS, Harris PF. The membranous layer of superficial fascia: evidence for its widespread distribution in the body. Surg Radiol Anat. 2006 Dec;28(6):606-19.
  18. Ronelle Wood.Fascia Magnified 25x. Available from: [last accessed 11/11/2021]
  19. Lipinska A, Sliwinski Z, Kiebzak W, Senderek T, Kirenko J. Influence of kinesiotaping application on lymphoedema of an upper limb in women after mastectomy. Polish Journal of Physiotherapy 2007:7;258-269.
  20. Elsevier Australia. Length, Strength and Kinesio Tape: The Upper Trapezius. Available from: [last accessed 12/11/2021]
  21. Boonkerd C, Limroongreungrat W. Elastic therapeutic tape: do they have the same material properties? J Phys Ther Sci. 2016 Apr;28(4):1303-6.
  22. Pyšný L, Pyšná J, Petrů D. Kinesio Taping Use in Prevention of Sports Injuries During Teaching of Physical Education and Sport. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 2015;186:618-623.
  23. Kachanathu SJ, Alenazi AM, Seif HE, Hafez AR, Alroumim AM. Comparison between Kinesio taping and a traditional physical therapy program in treatment of nonspecific low back pain. Journal of physical therapy science. 2014;26(8):1185-8.