You may be asking yourself, what is kinesio(logy) tape and why should I care? Kinesiology taping, developed in 1979 by Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kase in an effort to ease muscles and keep blood flowing, allowing injuries to heal quicker than traditional methods which focused on restricting motion and compression. I won’t get into all the specific, but you can read more at HowStuffWorks: How Kinesio Tape Works. Suffice it to say, I believe the scientific merit behind the tape, and trust the many studies that have been done testing the effectiveness of kinesiology tape.
With us being a running group rather than a group of scientists, we tend to just put stuff on and try it out, relying on anecdotal evidence rather than lab results, because in the end, if it works for you but not somebody else, it still works for you, and that’s all that matters.
Having heard the benefits of kinesio tape from fellow runners, I was really looking forward to this comparison as my IT band in my left leg had been bothering me lately. Perfect timing, right? There’s no better way to try this stuff out than when you’re actually in pain and can see which one feels best. For my comparison, I chose the two biggest names in the running scene for kinesiology tape: KT Tape and RockTape.
So to start, what are some uses of kinesiology tape? Among several other uses, popular running treatments include:
- Achilles tendonitis
- Plantar fasciitis
- Jumpers knee (PFS)
- ACL/MCL issues
- Groin and hamstring pulls
- Shin splints
While the methods for applying the two tapes are similar, there are differences between the two in how they function. The most noticeable one in my testing being how well they adhered to my skin. To test the adhesion, I applied both tapes in the same manner, and even shaved my legs to remove hair from the equation. I tested them both during the day and at night, running and in normal day-to-day functions. While applying the tape, both went on very easy and felt great, but the RockTape stayed put much longer, lasting up to 3 to 4 days, compared to the KT Tape coming loose within 10 to 12 hours of application. In fact, within just a few hours after applying it, the ends of the KT Tape would start coming up, with the rest of the tape slowly following. The RockTape easily won this comparison, including staying put while taking long baths for multiple days in a row.
The only other noticeable difference between the two was the construction of the tape and the elasticity. RockTape gets the nod here as well, as it felt stronger in my hand and seemed to offer a tighter compression when applied.
In the end, you can’t go wrong with either tape, as KT Tape and RockTape both worked well in alleviating the discomfort in my inflamed IT band, but with the superior adhesion and better compression, RockTape was the clear winner in my mind.