First Look: Rocktape Kinesiology Tape

As someone who is no stranger to a bit of sports-related knee pain and who travels in circles well populated with physical therapists (who seem oddly predisposed to mountain biking), I am no stranger to the practice of kinesiology therapeutic taping.  The idea behind taping knees and other joints is twofold- the first is to nudge difficult joints into more correct movement using the body’s reflexive desire not to rub against things and the second is to lift the skin somewhat, relieving pressure on pain transmitters and increasing blood flow.  While kinesiology tape has been used by medical professionals for quite some time, it’s only recently that consumer-oriented tapes have started popping up.

Given the success I’d had in using PT-directed taping to help with an achy knee, I was interested when Rocktape reached out with a sample.  Like professional tape, Rocktape comes in a couple of sizes on long rolls (5cm x 5m / 2″ x 16′ in this case).  The largely cotton tape is stretchy lengthwise but not across its width and has a latex-free hypoallergenic adhesive in a pleasing wavy pattern on its backside.  In an effort to make injury avoidance more fun, Rocktape is available in a number of patterns, from the logo print shown here to cow, biohazard, pink skulls, Garmin-style argyle, and others- to say nothing of a number of solids.  Our logo tape even came on a Lululemon-inspired backing, to provide inspiration for your workout.

In order to ensure correct and beneficial use, Rocktape have created an extensive video library demonstrating its use.  While Rocktape’s continuous rolls may be less convenient than other brands’ pre-cut strips, they are also more versatile- I’ll take the inconvenience of packing a pair of scissors over that of not having the right length strip any day.

On long days, 24-hour races, and when working with a sore joint (usually knees, in my case), I’m a fan of kinesiology tape.  And Rocktape works better than most.  Its adhesion is well above average and its stretch seems just right.  There is even an “H2O” version aimed at triathletes and swimmers.  It’s no substitute for seeking out the cause of your discomfort (bad fit, overexertion, etc), but will help to aid in recovery- and make things more comfortable in the meantime.

At $20 per roll (from which we got about ten applications), Rocktape isn’t inexpensive- though it does have the potential to last for several days/workouts.  One particularly sensitive tester ended up with a minor rash from the tape–likely more of an irritation than chemical reaction–while I have experienced no issues beyond a bit of adhesive left behind after removal.  If you have any nagging joint issues, get the root cause addressed- and don’t hesitate to give Rocktape a go.  Its excellent adhesion makes it a worthwhile upgrade from lesser tapes.

marc

rocktape.com

Comments

Spinach - 03/24/13 - 1:47pm

Ask anyone who attended BC Bike Race last year, the RockTape guy saved everyone; racers, broken volunteers, sore employees, everyone.

Josh - 03/24/13 - 2:26pm

This thing is just lke 1000′s of dietary suppliants that people consume with absolutely no evidence of doing anything good for your body.
Won’t help, won’t hurt. But it might hurt your wallet.

stratosrally - 03/24/13 - 3:47pm

I’m way too hirsute to ever consider using this product… ;)

…nifty idea, though!

Bert - 03/24/13 - 4:14pm

Kinesiology is the new homeopathy in many ways, unfortunately. There are no double-blind studies which would satisfy scientific criteria, showing a positive effect or validating the premise. That’s not to say the well studied placebo effect is not in place.

Not trying to rain on your parade, many people are happy with buying a placebo.

Nick S - 03/24/13 - 10:19pm

It might be placebo, but I’ll echo Spinach. I did the BC Bike Race two years ago and dealt with massive right knee pain unlike anything I’d ever experienced before on Day 4, and suffered through the long stage 5 as well. Day 6, my wife ‘persuaded’ me to go see the medical people to see if there was anything they could do. I’m pretty sure it was Brooks who listened to me explain what I was feeling, pulled out the tape and went to work on my knee.

I remember thinking the crap wouldn’t do a thing to help, but low and behold, it did exactly what Brooks promised it would do. Had a great (for me) day in Squamish–with none of that pain in my knee. I had them tape me up again for day 7 in Whistler. Worked like a charm. If I ever experience that kind of pain again, I’ll be looking to try the tape again.

Independent - 03/25/13 - 12:08am

Always disappointed to see people dismiss something because it’s not proven by “science.” Science is largely a corrupt, money driven business. Proof and disproof can be bought and sold. Valid Proof would be better of course, but don’t knock it until you try it.

Bert - 03/25/13 - 4:08am

Independent: “Science is largely a corrupt, money driven business.”

Whereas everyone in “alternative medicine” is in it solely for philanthropic reasons.

Gravity - 03/25/13 - 10:44am

@Independent – Yeah, I’m sure the Advil people paid off the scientists involved, in study after study, to conclude that this stuff was snake oil. What terrible reasoning you have.

Chris - 03/25/13 - 8:24pm

I’ve used Rocktape and it works.

It’s not a magnetic wristband or faith healing. It works by gently pulling the skin up away from the sore muscles and joints, enabling better circulation and drainage.

Try it on your IT band after a long day on the road and you’ll see.

john - 03/27/13 - 5:51pm

Regardless of your thoughts on science, I’ll trust scientific hearsay over regular hearsay. Furthermore, if you’re a industrious researcher, you should be able to differentiate which scientific studies are worth a read (valid, proper control groups, etc), and which are basically marketing garbage.

Of the (peer reviewed) studies I’ve seen, KT tape is dubious at best, with no direct correlation to more rapid/beneficial recovery. The placebo effect is high I’m sure, and it certainly LOOKS PRO, but beyond that I’m not too convinced of its merit. Even still, the fact that anyone can apply it based on where the pain ‘is,’ instead of what the actual source of the pain is (therefore, how to properly treat it) strikes me as hand-wavy.

Truth be told, I had a small run in with on-bike ITBS (self diagnosed, and cross-diagnosed by coach with history of physiology and exercise science), but it eventually spilled over to off-bike as well. I had a pretty good idea of what the source of pain was, physiologically, and tried out KT tape. Although the on-bike problem was due to slightly mis-aligned cleats when I swapped new ones on (which I could understand the KT tape not helping on bike at that point), but even OFF the bike, the KT tape didn’t help, it honestly made the pain MORE noticeable, but didn’t necessarily ‘nudge’ my knee/gait/whatever to fix the issue. But g*d damnit, I looked/felt like a total euro-pro!

john - 03/27/13 - 5:52pm

ugh. holy run-on sentence. I’m sorry; looks like I need to work on my copy-editing.

Greg - 07/11/13 - 2:46pm

Greg here, founder of Rocktape. First, skepticism is always prudent. I didn’t believe in Kinesiology tape when i first encountered it. Then i got taped. Cured my problem (blown gastroc due to overtraining for the Death Ride) so i got curious.

I did my research and found that there’s plenty of evidence that proves K-tape is an effective treatment for certain conditions.

We have over 50 reports (double blind, placebo, etc) that we’ve accumulated over the years that show it’s effectiveness (performed by a variety of unbiased sources).

Here’s the conclusion of an article called “Effects of Kinesiology taping on muscle strength after ACL repair” by Heather M. Murray, PhD, PT, University of New Mexico published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy.

“Conclusions – In this preliminary study, it was found that Kinesio Tape applied to the anterior aspect of the thigh could significantly enhance the joint active range of motion and that this increase is correlated with an increase in surface EMG of the muscles of the anterior compartment of the thigh, the quadriceps femoris muscle.”

When i started the company i felt that this product was largely misunderstood and had somehow become associated with holograms and unicorn dust. I knew that if we could prove to the medical practitioners of the world that this was an effective form of treatment, we’d have a viable business.

Fast forward to today and I’m proud that Rocktape is used worldwide by over 20,000 medical practitioners in 30 different countries. We’ve developed an entire certification and educational program around kinesiology tape that has been adopted by many.

While I’ll be the first to admit that there’s more research to be done, I’m confident that not only does the current literature show kinesiology tape to be as effective as most pharmaceuticals, but it is far more convenient, cost effective and versatile than other forms of treatment.

Rocktape is not a silver bullet; it can’t solve every problem nor does it work for everyone. That said, for many (50%+) it’s the difference between being active or sedentary. As we all know, being active is critical to wellness.

So to those that remain skeptical i say good for you. But do yourself a favor and do the research, you’ll be surprised at the quality and quantity. And for those that have already found utility in kinesiology tape, i say I hope you never need us again. But if you do, we’ll be here.

Now get out there and ride!

Jason - 08/12/13 - 12:00pm

Greg,

I have ridden competitively with many folks who swear by taping, I have yet to find a study that clearly says it works. Competitors have actually come out and stated that the Placebo effect is a huge part of it. I tracked down this one study you refer to, I assume the best one to back your points? It was done on 20 women, a very small study I would say one that many scientists would say has little weight on that alone. This study does show ~20% gains in various movements however it also has a +/- accuracy of upwards of 47%. That to me seems that gains are anywhere from a healthy 20% to a significant performance loss.

I would be interested to see more studies you refer to with large groups of people being tested and clear results.

Ptibull - 01/20/14 - 10:47am

I don’t need a study to tell me my knee pain is gone. I don’t need a study to tell me my knee no longer swells after a 100 miles in the saddle.

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