Helpful Guide to Proper Application of Kinesio Tape

As a lifelong runner and general athlete, I have had my share of musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries from stress fractures of the hip to calf strains to low back pain. At one point, I was willing to try just about anything for a chronic calf injury. Around the same time, it seemed like you couldn’t watch a sporting event (particularly a running event) and not notice the number of athletes wearing colorful Kinesio tape. 

I bought a book about it, some tape, and special (expensive!) Kinesio scissors. In my “n-of-1” trial, Kinesio tape was inconclusive to ineffective. That hasn’t stopped the continued growth of Kinesio taping as yet another alternative/integrative medical treatment. 

I still recommend it to patients willing to try something that is relatively low cost, has some evidence to support its use and likely minimal risk of harm. The “craze” of Kinesio taping dates back to the 1970s in Japan and the founder of kinesiology/Kinesio taping, Dr. Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor. He combined his know-how of human anatomy, MSK manipulation and worked with industry to create a special type of tape that was durable, flexible, and hypo-allergenic (for most). From there, the phenomenon went global. Today, thousands of practitioners and likely legions more of patients apply Kinesio tape for everything from common MSK conditions to complex medical conditions, including stroke. 

One of the most common questions of athletes and practitioners interested in Kinesio taping is the “how-to” of applying it. Where does it go for a particular condition/body part? How should it be cut/applied? A new app called the Taping Handbook provides step-by-step instructions for Kinesio taping of more than 40 body regions from head to toe, including common MSK conditions such as shoulder pain, tennis elbow, low back pain, knee pain, Achilles tendinopathy, and plantar fasciitis. 

Evidence-based medicine

The app lacks any general information about kinesiology and/or Kinesio tape. No evidence-based medicine links/articles included. A search of PubMed reveals no indexed articles by the inventor/founder, Dr. Kenzo Kase; however, nearly 400 articles are indexed under “Kinesio taping” for a variety of medical conditions. Several recent systematic reviews claim the superiority of Kinesio taping over placebo or other conservative modalities for back pain and a variety of other MSK conditions. Other studies are inconclusive or show no benefit.

What providers would benefit from this App?

Patients, physical therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, sports medicine and primary care providers, and any other provider who utilizes kinesio tape for sports-related conditions.

  • Price
    • Free
  • Likes
    • Step-by-step instructions with quality illustrations
    • Detailed information on anatomy of each body region
    • Taping applications well-divided by body region/medical condition
  • Dislikes
    • No videos on proper application; only pictures
    • No information/evidence on kinesio taping.
    • Not available for Android
  • Overall

The Taping Handbook app could bring the increasingly popular Kinesio taping to more providers and patients. The app is easy to use and includes quality instructions and detailed information about the anatomy involved. But it does lack general information/evidence about Kinesio taping, types of tape, scissors, etc. However, it is free and would be applicable to provider and patient alike.  

Overall Score

  • 4.5 stars
  • User Interface
    • 4.5 stars

Easy to follow, step-by-step instructions; good organization by body region/part.

  • Multimedia Usage
    • 4.0 stars

High-quality illustrations of proper placement on the body as well as general anatomy; however, videos would be a welcome addition.

  • Price
    • 5 stars

The app is free.

  • Real-World Applicability
    • 4.0 stars

The app likely would be very helpful for providers and/or patients who utilize Kinesio tape. However, once the technique of application is known, the app likely would become less useful. Nonetheless, a great introduction to Kinesio taping with quality description/instructions of the application for over 40 body regions.

  • Device Used For Review

iPhone 11 Pro running iOS 13.1.3

Available for iPhone and iPad; not available for Android at this time.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.