Our Massage Therapist Lewis, who also studied Sports Science, took a look at this question.
This is a question we get asked a lot, especially after a tournament like the French Open where we see all these tennis players with bright pink tape on their knees and shoulders. It looks amazing, but does it actually work?
A 2015 study looked at 8 previous Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) into the effectiveness of taping for back pain and spinal injuries. These are very high quality studies.
What did these studies find?
Regarding low back pain they found that: “Meta-analysis of RCTs on low back pain demonstrated that elastic taping does not significantly reduce pain and disability immediately post-treatment”
Regarding standard taping and the newer, more colourful, elastic taping methods: “Results from single trials indicated that both elastic and non-elastic taping are not better than placebo or no treatment on spinal disability.”
In other words, for back pain taping doesn’t appear to help.
Regarding neck pain: “Positive results were found only for elastic taping and only for short-term pain reduction in WAD or specific neck pain.” They did note, however, that ‘generally, the effect sizes were very small or not clinically relevant’.
In summary, the research has not yet shown that taping appears to do much for back pain, and at best might help a little bit with neck pain.