A recent study carried out by RockTape measured the performance-enhancing effects of its popular brand of kinesiology tape. Using five elite cyclists as its subjects, the study compared each athlete’s taped and untaped performance. The study, titled “The clinical efficacy of RockTape in a performance enhancing application” – authored by van den Dries, Capoblanco, and Brink – indicated that “Athletes who wore Rocktape performed 2-6% better than when they did not wear Rocktape.” On this basis, researchers concluded that “RockTape may be of some assistance to athletes in endurance competitions.”
Study participants were chosen from a pool of over 30 elite Northern California cyclists. After contacting the original 30-plus cyclists, researchers interviewed all who were interested in participating, ultimately selecting 12 who met the criteria for the study. All selected cyclists, who ranged in age from 17 to 40, met the following qualifications: They were “Category II or above, in race-ready shape and free of illness or injuries.” Cyclists of both genders participated. Of the 12 cyclists selected, five completed the study, with seven abandoning the study before or during the testing period.
According to researchers, the purpose of the study was “to compare the performance differences in cyclists who wore tape and those who did not.”
A few highlights of the methodology used:
- Taping was done by the main study author, who is a certified RockTape practitioner, with all athletes receiving identical front and back taping using a “standard performance back chain and performance front chain Rocktape application.” (For further details on taping methodology, visit the above link.)
- Care was taken to ensure that no cyclist had ridden the day of the test and that all were in good condition.
- Participants were physically segregated from one another to prevent a competitive element from biasing test results.
- A coin-toss determined whether each rider rode taped or untaped in the first session.
- Uniform recovery periods were provided for all athletes.
Despite the above precautions, several factors contributed to the study’s “Low” evidence rating. The study, in fact, states the following:
“One of the weaknesses of this study is the lack of a true independent research team. RockTape funded and conducted this study, which is an obvious issue. Additionally, the test should have utilized a control group, which would have provided a control for any potential Hawthorne effect (i.e. the unintentional, psychologically induced modification or improvement of behavior when the subject knows the behavior is being observed or measured).”
Other possible limitations the study mentions are “the strong placebo effect of taping that has been well documented in subjects with patellofemoral joint pain…” (a factor which the researchers admit could have affected their results) and the prior knowledge the study subjects may have had about RockTape and its claims, which could also have “psychologically contaminated” the results.
The small sampling of cyclists completing the study might also be considered a weakness. However, since each cyclist’s taped results were measured against his/her own untaped results and were easily quantifiable based on specific numerical measures, this would seem to provide a reasonable level of reliability in comparing the taped/untaped conditions, barring the psychological effects mentioned above.
Despite its obvious limitations, this study appears to provide reasonably credible support for the efficacy of RockTape for performance enhancement.