​Kinesiology Tape or Compression Sleeve Applied to Thigh Does Not Improve Balance or Muscle Activation Before or Following Fatigue

The implementation of compression has shown positive but inconsistent data on physiological improvements. Though presenting evidence on increasing blood circulation, lactate clearance and other parameters such as neuromuscular efficiency and force output. Also observed, is a possible decrease in landing impact force, but surprisingly no effects on running or triathlon variables, bench press strength or recovery time. Comparatively the use of compression sleeves (CS), has shown to increase balance but only when individuals perform related assessments with their eyes closed. Similarly kinesiology tape (KT), has insufficient data supporting various proposed claims but has shown improved force and balance within shoulder and ankle joints. Importantly, KT has few studies showing a possible decreased time to reach peak torque while experiencing muscle fatigue. The purpose of the current investigation was to understand the effect of knee CS and KT on balance before and after introducing muscle fatigue.

The experiment was a within subjects design, assigning random orders of using a knee CS, KT or no intervention (placebo). The participants consisted of 7 males and 5 females, who were described as active healthy individuals. Including a familiarization period, these individuals performed approximately four sets of unilateral Bulgarian squats. Before completing this exercise, two pretests were conducted, once prior to warm up and directly after CS or KT application. The once completing the four sets, assessments were conducted 1 and 10 minutes post exercise. The assessments included the Y Balance Test, a Drop Jump from approximately 50cm, and analyzing EMG activity.

The collected data presented no significant effect for either CS or KT on balance, directly post or 10 minutes post exercise. Parallel with previous literature, the researchers found no significant difference in activation in CS or KT. This finding also lends evidence contrary to the hypothesis that these interventions may allow for benefits in fatigued-state muscles, which was not seen in this investigation.

Having interned in a physical therapy based setting, these findings were surprising to me due to the widespread usage of CS and KT. Though anecdotally having seen benefit from KT, I believe though effective for specific situations, its usage has become popular and improperly implemented. For reduction in local pain, these aids have shown improvement, but perhaps greater research is required in the possible neuromuscular effects. Due to an apparent association with proprioception, understanding into the neurological parameters is needed. This investigation has also sparked my current interests in furtherstudies on varying populations to see if individuals experience greater responses to these methods.