How effective is that coloured stretchy tape?

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It’s far from unusual given the current plethora of televised sport (World Cup Football, NRL, AFL, Tennis) to see brightly coloured stretchable tape adorning athletes bodies in a variety of intricate patterns. Indeed this type of tape has proved very popular since its appearance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As a Sports Physiotherapist, I have always wondered about the effectiveness of such tape. After all, the stretchable tape seems to really only have contact with the athletes skin which isn’t exactly rigidly adhered to the underlying structures it’s meant to influence.

A recent 2013 European Journal of Physical Rehabilitation Medicine. article concluded that “although the tape has been shown to be effective in aiding short-term pain, there is no firm evidence-based conclusion of the effectiveness of this application on the majority of movement disorders within a wide range of pathologic disabilities. More research is clearly needed.” A further March 2014 Systematic Review article in the Journal of Physiotherapy concluded that the most up to date evidence does not support the use of this intervention in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.
Clearly food for thought.
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