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Kinesio taping has no effect on muscle strength

added Dec 18, 12 • updated Aug 17, 15
Vercelli S, Sartorio F, Foti C, Colletto L, Virton D, Ronconi G, Ferriero G. Immediate effects of kinesiotaping on quadriceps muscle strength: a single-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial. Clin J Sport Med. 2012 Jul;22(4):319–26. PubMed #22450591.
Tags: devices, exercise, controversy, treatment, self-treatment, debunkery

PainSci summary of Vercelli 2012 ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for average studies, with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Shocker: this experiment found that applying kinesio taping (KT) had no effect on muscle strength (as claimed by some KT propopents, probably too many of them). “These results do not support the use of KT applied in this way to change maximal muscle strength in healthy people.” It was a ridiculous idea to begin with — obviously. It is conceivable, but rather unlikely and wild speculation without the slightest confirmation (and now this evidence against it).

Advocates of KT protest that a study of healthy subjects is irrelevant, but it’s clear that KT is routinely, fashionably used on/by many serious and elite athletes who are fighting fit and not “injured” enough for it to be likely to make a meaningful difference to this research. In other words, if KT can’t enhance the strength of an average healthy athlete, it probably can’t do it for a slightly injured elite one either.

original abstract

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the immediate effects on maximal muscle strength of kinesiotaping (KT) applied to the dominant quadriceps of healthy subjects.

DESIGN: Single-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial.

SETTING: "Salvatore Maugeri" Foundation.

PARTICIPANTS: With ethical approval and informed consent, a convenience sample of 36 healthy volunteers were recruited. Two subjects did not complete the sessions and were excluded from the analysis.

INTERVENTIONS: Subjects were tested across 3 different sessions, randomly receiving 2 experimental KT conditions applied with the aim of enhancing and inhibiting muscle strength and a sham KT application.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Quadriceps muscle strength was measured by means of an isokinetic maximal test performed at 60 and 180 degrees per second. Two secondary outcome measures were performed: the single-leg triple hop for distance to measure limb performance and the Global Rating of Change Scale (GRCS) to calculate agreement between KT application and subjective perception of strength.

RESULTS: Compared with baseline, none of the 3 taping conditions showed a significant change in muscle strength and performance (all P> 0.05). Effect size was very low under all conditions (≤0.08). Very few subjects showed an individual change greater than the minimal detectable change. Global Rating of Change Scale scores demonstrated low to moderate agreement with the type of KT applied, but some placebo effects were reported independently of condition.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicated no significant effect in the maximal quadriceps strength immediately after the application of inhibition, facilitation, or sham KT. These results do not support the use of KT applied in this way to change maximal muscle strength in healthy people.

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