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Has kinesio tape a thermal effect on sprint cycling performance? A thermographic study.


Abstract and Figures

The aim of this study was to investigate the immediate effect that kinesio taping (KT) application on vastus lateralis and vastus medialis has on skin temperature (Tsk) of rectus femoris before and after a sprint cycling effort. Eight subjects were tested on a 6 s cycling sprint in two conditions: without KT (nKT), and with KT on both limbs (KT2). Thermal images of thighs were recorded before and after each sprint, thus providing skin temperature variations of rectus femoris (ΔT). Performance outcomes were Peak power (PP), Average power (AP) and Total work, recorded during the 6 s cycling sprint. PP and ΔT were significantly higher in the KT2 with respect to the nKT condition (p<0.05). This may be attributed to a thermal effect produced by the KT.
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Has kinesio tape a thermal effect on sprint cycling performance? A thermographic
by D. Formenti*, N. Ludwig**, A. Trecroci*, A. Rossi*, I. Fernandez-Cuevas***, M. Gargano**,
A. Caumo*, and G. Alberti*
* School of Exercise Sciences, Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health,
Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.
** Department of Physics, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.
*** Department of Sports, Faculty of Sciences for Physical Activity and Sport (INEF),
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain.
The aim of this study was to investigate the immediate effect that kinesio taping (KT) application on vastus
lateralis and vastus medialis has on skin temperature (Tsk) of rectus femoris before and after a sprint cycling effort. Eight
subjects were tested on a 6 s cycling sprint in two conditions: without KT (nKT), and with KT on both limbs (KT2).
Thermal images of thighs were recorded before and after each sprint, thus providing skin temperature variations of
rectus femoris (ΔT). Performance outcomes were Peak power (PP), Average power (AP) and Total work, recorded
during the 6 s cycling sprint. PP and ΔT were significantly higher in the KT2 with respect to the nKT condition (p<0.05).
This may be attributed to a thermal effect produced by the KT.
1. Introduction
Kinesio taping (KT) is a method used to produce therapeutic effects in rehabilitation in sports medicine, and also
used by athletes of various disciplines. Recently, it has been hypothesized that KT application can enhance muscle
power and strength performance [1]. Several studies demonstrated its efficacy in increasing isokinetic and isotonic
function [2,3]. However, other studies failed to find beneficial effect during a strength effort [46].
The mechanisms by which KT should enhance power and strength performance have not been completely
clarified yet. Authors supposed that KT may produce a tactile stimulation on the skin, thus activating mechanoreceptors
located in the dermis. Due to the material properties of KT, it is very likely that its application produces an increment in
skin temperature (Tsk) of the body area close to those area where the kinesio tape is applied.
The use of infrared thermography in the study of human thermoregulation associated to physical exercise is
increasing [710]. Recently, Priego Quesada and colleagues conducted a study for investigating the effect of graduated
compressive stockings on skin temperature in runners using infrared thermography [8]. Although the condition with the
garments did not produce a significant change in heart rate and perception of fatigue, it was found that running with
graduated compressive stockings induced an increase in skin temperature not only in body regions that were in contact
with the garments, but also in those regions of the thigh that were not [8].
Based on these observations, it is legit to hypothesize that the possible improvement in muscle power and
strength performance induced the kinesio taping application may be the result of a thermal effect, similar to those found
by Priego Quesada [8]. However, whether, when, and why KT has positive effect on muscle performance have not been
completely investigated.
Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the immediate effect of kinesio taping application on
vastus lateralis and vastus medialis on Tsk of rectus femoris by infrared thermography [7] before and after a sprint
performance on a cycle ergometer. It was hypothesized that the kinesio taping application would result in an increment of
the skin temperature of the rectus femoris, probably reflecting an increment in sprint performance.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Subjects
Eight physically active males participated voluntarily in this study (age: 23.5 ± 1.7 years; body mass: 70.3 ± 8.1
kg; height: 1.79 ± 0.9 m). They had no history of musculoskeletal injury in the lower limbs for the year before the initiation
of the study. Participants were informed about the protocols and procedures before their confirmation, and they provided
a written informed consent. The study was approved by the Ethical Committee of the Università degli Studi di Milano.
2.2. Procedures
After two familiarization sessions the protocol was structured in two experimental trials (5 days between each
other), which involved a single 6 s sprint on a cycle ergometer (Monark 894E). Participants were tested randomly in two
different conditions: without taping (nKT), and with the tape applied on both legs (KT), during which Peak Power (PP),
Mean Power (MP) and Total Work (TW) were recorded. Standard two-inch (5 cm) black kinesio taping (KT tex gold®)
was applied by the same certified practitioner on vastus lateralis and vastus medialis muscles longitudinally in the KT
condition. In both experimental trials, athletes in swimsuit performed a warm-up at 100 W for 4 min on the cycle
ergometer. After that, they rested for 15 min to acclimate to the room environmental condition (22 - 23 °C; 50 ± 5 %).
Skin temperature of the muscle quadriceps body area was measured by infrared thermography. Thermal
images were recorded immediately before and after the 6 s sprint bouts using a 14-bit digital infrared thermal camera
(AVIO, TVS-700, 320 x 240 Microbolometric Array; 8-14 µm spectral range; 0.07 °C thermal resolution). The subjects
were advised to abstain from alcohol and caffeinated drinks, and to refrain from physical activity involving lower limbs 24
h before the tests due to the potential influence on Tsk [11]. Skin surface was prepared by removing hairs at least 24
hours before the tests.
2.3. Data analysis and statistics
To obtain Tsk outcomes, thermal images were analyzed using GRAYESS® IRT Analyzer, Version 4.8.
A region of interest (ROI) corresponding to the rectus femoris was selected manually by an expert operator, thus
averaging all the temperature pixels within each ROI (Figure 1). Finally, a unique temperature value for each subject was
calculated as the mean of right and left ROI temperatures at each time point. Emissivity value was set to 0.98.
Skin temperature was higher after sprint exercise with respect to the basal. Therefore, temperature variation
(ΔT) was calculated as the difference between temperature immediately after and before each sprint (expressed in °C)
[9]. The normality of the data distribution was checked by graphical method and by the Shapiro Wilk’s Normality Test. All
the data met the assumption of normality, and therefore parametric statistics was used. ΔT, PP, AP and TW was
compared between nKT and KT2 conditions using a paired sample t-test. A p-value lower than 0.05 was considered
statistically significant.
Fig. 1. A representative thermal image of one subject with the region of interests on the rectus femoris in the KT2
condition. It is possible to notice the presence of kinesio taping, especially on the vastus medialis.
3. Results
Mean values and standard deviations of PP and AP are shown in the graphs of Figure 1. Mean values and
standard deviations of TW and ΔT are shown in the graphs of Figure 2.
PP was significantly higher in the KT2 condition with respect to the nKT condition (p=0.04). ΔT was significantly
higher in the KT2 condition with respect to the nKT condition (p<0.01). AP and TW were similar in the two conditions
(p=0.15 and p=0.3, respectively).
Fig. 2. Mean values of PP, AP, in nKT and KT2 conditions. Error bars are standard deviations.
Fig. 3. Mean values of TW and ΔT in nKT and KT2 conditions. Error bars are standard deviations.
4. Discussion
The main finding of this study is that the application of KT on vastus lateralis and vastus medialis enhanced
sprint cycling performance. The increment in PP reflected an increment in ΔT of the rectus femoris, and viceversa (see
Figure 2 and Figure 3).
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that have investigated the acute effect of KT application on
vastus lateralis and vastus medialis on skin temperature of rectus femoris, before and after a 6 s cycling sprint
performance. We wanted to test the possible thermal effect of KT on the performance of cycling sprint, using infrared
thermography. Our hypothesis that the kinesio taping application would have resulted in an increment of the skin
temperature of the rectus femoris reflecting an increment in performance was verified.
The positive effect of KT application on sprint cycling performance (30 s Wingate test) was previously observed
by other authors [12]. However, another study failed to find a significant effect of KT [13].
From a speculative point of view, our positive outcomes may be attributed to an occurred thermal effect on skin
temperature of thighs’ anterior surface, as previously found by Priego Quesada [8]. In fact, temperature variation of
rectus femoris was higher in the KT2 compared to the nKT condition. However, the increment in PP was modest, and no
significant improvements were found for AP and TW.
Further studies are required to corroborate our results, and to assess if the possible thermal effects of kinesio
taping application are related to an increment in skin blood flow.
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brachii on isokinetic elbow peak torque. A placebo controlled study in a population of young healthy subjects. J.
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[2] Vithoulka, I., Beneka, A., Malliou, P., Aggelousis, N., et al., The effects of Kinesio-Taping® on quadriceps
strength during isokinetic exercise in healthy non athlete women. Isokinet. Exerc. Sci. 2010, 18, 16.
[3] Huang, C.-Y., Hsieh, T.-H., Lu, S.-C., Su, F.-C., Effect of the Kinesio tape to muscle activity and vertical jump
performance in healthy inactive people. Biomed. Eng. Online. 2011, 10, 70.
[4] Fu, T.-C., Wong, A.M.K., Pei, Y.-C., Wu, K.P., et al., Effect of Kinesio taping on muscle strength in athletes-a
pilot study. J. Sci. Med. Sport. 2008, 11, 198201.
[5] Nunes, G.S., de Noronha, M., Cunha, H.S., Ruschel, C., Borges, N.G., Effect of kinesio taping on jumping and
balance in athletes: a crossover randomized controlled trial. J. Strength Cond. Res. 2013, 27, 31833189.
[6] Vercelli, S., Sartorio, F., Foti, C., Colletto, L., et al., Immediate effects of kinesiotaping on quadriceps muscle
strength: a single-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial. Clin. J. Sport Med. 2012, 22, 319326.
[7] Formenti, D., Ludwig, N., Gargano, M., Gondola, M., et al., Thermal Imaging of Exercise-Associated Skin
Temperature Changes in Trained and Untrained Female Subjects. Ann. Biomed. Eng. 2013, 41, 863871.
[8] Priego Quesada, J.I., Lucas-Cuevas, A.G., Gil-Calvo, M., Giménez, J.V., et al., Effects of graduated
compression stockings on skin temperature after running. J. Therm. Biol. 2015, 52, 130136.
[9] Priego Quesada, J.I., Martínez, N., Palmer, R.S., Psikuta, A., et al., Effects of the cycling workload on core and
local skin temperatures. Exp. Therm. Fluid Sci. Accepted and in press.
[10] Formenti, D., Ludwig, N., Trecroci, A., Gargano, M., et al., Dynamics of thermographic skin temperature
response during squat exercise at two different speeds. J. Therm. Biol. Accepted and in press.
[11] Fernández-Cuevas, I., Bouzas Marins, J.C., Arnáiz Lastras, J., Gómez Carmona, P.M., et al., Classification of
factors influencing the use of infrared thermography in humans: A review. Infrared Phys. Technol. 2015, 71, 28
[12] Dae-Young, K., Byoung-Do, S., Immediate Effect of Quadriceps Kinesio Taping on the Anaerobic Muscle
Power and Anaerobic Threshold of Healthy College Students. J. Phys. Ther. Sci. 2012, 24, 919923.
[13] Harmanci, H., Kalkavan, A., Karavelioglu, M., Yuksel, O., et al., Effects of kinesio taping on anaerobic power
and capacity results. J. Sports Med. Phys. Fitness. 2015, Apr, 30.
The aim of the study was to assess skin temperature after short-term kinesiology tape application. Seventy-four healthy volunteers with no history of lower back pain participated in the study. Kinesiology tape was applied in the experimental group, and Matopat Classic adhesive tape was applied in the placebo group. Study participants wore the tape for four consecutive days and were then thermographically analyzed for changes in skin temperature. Examination of skin surface temperature distribution revealed a significantly lower temperature (mean decrease, 1.3°C P = .001 area1, 1.5°C P = .001 area2, 1.6 P = .008 area3) immediately after kinesiology tape the removal. One hour after removal of the tape, a statistically significant increase in temperature was observed over all three areas (mean increase, 0.9°C P = .025 area1, 1.0°C P = .0008 area2, 1.0 P = .011 area3). In group 2, there were no statistically significant temperature changes. Based on the findings, we determined that kinesiology taping may affect skin temperature at the site of application.
Full-text available
Body temperature is one of the most commonly used indicators of health status in humans. Infrared thermography (IRT) is a safe, non-invasive and low-cost technique that allows for the rapid and non-invasive recording of radiating energy that is released from the body. IRT measures this radiation, directly related to Skin Temperature (Tsk) and has been widely used since the early 1960s in different areas. Recent technical advances in infrared cameras have made new human applications of IRT (beyond diagnostic techniques) possible. This review focuses on the lack of comprehensive information about the factors influencing the use of IRT in humans, and proposes a comprehensive classification in three primary groups: environmental, individual and technical factors. We aim: to propose a common framework for further investigations; to reinforce the accuracy of human IRT; to summarise and discuss the results from the studies carried out on each factor and to identify areas requiring further research to determine their effects on human IRT.
Full-text available
Purpose: The purpose of the study was to investigate the effect of Kinesio Taping on quadriceps strength at maximum concentric and eccentric isokinetic exercise mode in healthy non-athlete women in order to examine the Kinesio Taping effect in increasing or decreasing the muscular quadriceps strength. Methods: Three different quadriceps taping modes have been used (no taping, placebo taping, Kinesio Taping) for the study and isokinetic concentric and eccentric strength assessments have been done for both knee extensors and flexors. Results: One-way ANOVA for repeated measures revealed no significant differences in max concentric torque between the three different taping modes but significant differences in max eccentric torque during both the concentric and eccentric mode of the quadriceps muscle. Conclusion: The results suggest that application of Kinesio Taping on the anterior surface of the thigh, in the direction of vastus medialis, laterallis and rectus femoris fascia, could increase the eccentric muscle strength (isokinetic eccentric peak torque), in healthy adults.
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Heat dissipation during sport exercise is an important physiological mechanism that may influence athletic performance. Our aim was to test the hypothesis that differences exist in the dynamics of exercise-associated skin temperature changes between trained and untrained subjects. We investigated thermoregulation of a local muscle area (muscle-tendon unit) involved in a localized steady-load exercise (standing heels raise) using infrared thermography. Seven trained female subjects and seven untrained female controls were studied. Each subject performed standing heels raise exercise for 2 min. Thermal images were recorded prior to exercise (1 min), during exercise (2 min), and after exercise (7 min). The analysis of thermal images provided the skin temperature time course, which was characterized by a set of descriptive parameters. Two-way ANOVA for repeated measures detected a significant interaction (p = 0.03) between group and time, thus indicating that athletic subjects increased their skin temperature differently with respect to untrained subjects. This was confirmed by comparing the parameters describing the speed of rise of skin temperature. It was found that trained subjects responded to exercise more quickly than untrained controls (p < 0.05). In conclusion, physical training improves the ability to rapidly elevate skin temperature in response to a localized exercise in female subjects.
Low intensity resistance training with slow movement and tonic force generation has been shown to create blood flow restriction within muscles that may affect thermoregulation through the skin. We aimed to investigate the influence of two speeds of exercise execution on skin temperature dynamics using infrared thermography. Thirteen active males performed randomly two sessions of squat exercise (normal speed, 1 s eccentric/1 s concentric phase, 1 s; slow speed, 5 s eccentric/5 s concentric phase, 5 s), using ~50% of 1 maximal repetition. Thermal images of ST above muscles quadriceps were recorded at a rate of 0.05 Hz before the exercise (to determine basal ST) and for 480 s following the initiation of the exercise (to determine the nonsteady-state time course of ST). Results showed that ST changed more slowly during the 5 s the 1 s exercise (p=0.002), whereas the delta (with respect to basal) excursions were similar for the two exercises (p>0.05). In summary, our data provided a detailed nonsteady-state portrait of ST changes following squat exercises executed at two different speeds. These results lay the basis for further investigations entailing the joint use of infrared thermography and Doppler flowmetry to study the events taking place both at the skin and the muscle level during exercises executed at slow speed.
Purpose: The aim of the study was to determine the influence of cycling workload on the variation of core and skin temperature of the different body regions, and the relationship between both temperature variables. Method: Fourteen cyclists performed two 45-min cycling tests at 35% and 50% of peak power output on different days. The cadence was constant in both tests (90 rpm). Core temperature was measured continuously throughout the test and local skin temperature was recorded before, immediately after and 10 min after finishing the cycling test. Differences in variation of the core and skin temperature and in the effort perception and body mass loss due to different cycling workload were analyzed. Additionally, the relationship between core and skin temperature was assessed. Results: Core temperature of the test at 50% was between 0.2 and 0.3 °C higher than at workload of 35%. The tibialis anterior region, the ankle anterior region and the Achilles region presented higher reductions in skin temperature due to exercise for test at 50% than 35%, and knee presented a lower increase (p < 0.05). Core and skin temperatures showed either weak or moderate inverse correlation for most of the body regions, but in others such as knee, ankle anterior and Achilles region, a positive weak relationship was observed. Conclusions: The findings of the present study highlight the difficulty of linking skin temperature with cycling workload and core temperature due to the thermoregulatory system efficiency in the increase of the thermal gradient, alongside the multifactorial dependence of the skin temperature.
High skin temperatures reduce the thermal gradient between the core and the skin and they can lead to a reduction in performance and increased risk of injury. Graduated compression stockings have become popular among runners in the last years and their use may influence the athlete’s thermoregulation. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of graduated compression stockings on skin temperature during running. Forty-four runners performed two running tests lasting 30 minutes (10 minutes of warm-up and 20 minutes at 75% of their maximal aerobic speed) with and without graduated compressive stockings. Skin temperature was measured in twelve regions of interest on the lower limbs by infrared thermography before and after running. Heart rate and perception of fatigue were assessed during the last minute of the running test. Compression stockings resulted in greater increase of temperature (p=0.002 and ES=2.2, 95%CI [0.11-0.45 °C]) not only in the body regions in contact (tibialis anterior, ankle anterior and gastrocnemius) but also in the body regions that were not in contact with the garment (vastus lateralis, abductor and semitendinosus). No differences were observed between conditions in heart rate and perception of fatigue (p>0.05 and ES<0.8). In conclusion, running with graduated compression stockings produces a greater increase of skin temperature without modifying the athlete’s heart rate and perception of fatigue.
Kinesio taping is a therapeutic method used by physiotherapists during musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disorders. Efficacy of the kinesio taping implementation on sport performance is inconsistent. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of kinesio taping on 30 second-repeated jump power, wingate anaerobic power and wingate anaerobic capacity results. Randomised controlled study. 31 healthy male athletes volunteered to participate in this study. The subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups: a kinesio taping group (16 subjects; X-bar age: 21,87±2,02 years) and a without kinesio taping group (15 subjects; X-bar age: 21,66±1,67 years). The Kinesio taping group was taped with a Y--shaped kinesio tape at the quadriceps muscles according to the Kenzo Kase's Kinesio taping manual. A dependent t test was used to compare the anaerobic power and capacity measurements before and after the kinesio taping application. No significant differences were found for absolute wingate anaerobic power, relative wingate anaerobic power, absolute wingate anaerobic capacity, relative wingate anaerobic capacity and 30 second--repeated jump power outputs after the kinesio taping application (p>0,05).
[Purpose] This study examined the effect of taping the quadriceps femoris muscles of healthy college students on anaerobic muscle power (AMP) and the anaerobic threshold (AT) to analyze the functional value of taping on athletic performance capacity. [Subjects] Thirty male healthy college students were enrolled in this study. [Methods] The study was performed from April to May 2010 (for a month). Kinesio tapes, 5 cm in width, were applied to quardriceps femoris muscles of participants. AMP and AT tests were conducted a sports science research laboratory. The paired t-test was conducted to examine the significance of differences between before and after taping. [Results] Mean power, peak power, mean power/kg, peak power/kg showed significant increases after taping. The induction time of AT, and, VE, VO2, HR, VO2max at AT showed no significant improvements after taping, but RPE showed a significant improvement. [Conclusion] Taping of the quadriceps femoris muscles of healthy college students affected AMP but not AT suggesting that taping influences athletic performance capacity.
The purpose of this cross-over randomized controlled trial was to verify the effect of KT applied to the triceps surae with the aim to improve muscle performance during vertical jump (VJ), horizontal jump (HJ), and dynamic balance (DB) in healthy college athletes. The participants were 20 athletes (11 male) who competed in four different sports modalities (track and field, handball, volleyball and soccer). Participants had a mean age of 22.3 ± 3.3 years, mean height of 1.74 ± 0.08 m, and mean body mass of 67.8 ± 10.1 kg. The intervention consisted of applying KT from the origin of the triceps surae to its insertion with the purpose of increasing muscle performance; and the placebo consisted of applying tape with non-elastic properties. There were no signi&filig;cant differences between KT and placebo conditions for height (m) in VJ (KT, 0.18 ± 0.06; placebo, 0.17 ± 0.06; p = 0.14), distance (m) in HJ (KT, 1.48 ± 0.3; placebo, 1.47 ± 0.3; p = 0.40), and DB in distance reached (m) in the star excursion balance test, normalized by lower limb length (anterior: KT, 90.0 ± 6.7; placebo, 89.5 ± 7.5; p = 0.56; posterolateral: KT, 92.5 ± 7.5; placebo, 93.2 ± 5.8; p = 0.52; posteromedial: KT, 98.3 ± 6.7; placebo, 98.7 ± 7.4; p = 0.69). The KT technique was not found to be useful in improving performance in some sports-related movements in healthy college athletes, therefore KT applied to the triceps surae should not be considered by athletes when the sole reason of the application is to increase performance during jumping and balance.
Objectives: To investigate the effect of Kinesio Taping (KT) applied over the biceps brachii on maximal isokinetic elbow torque. Design: This study followed a single-blinded, placebo controlled, repeated measures design. Methods: Isokinetic eccentric and concentric elbow peak torques were evaluated without taping (NT), with KT or placebo taping (PT) in 20 healthy participants. Furthermore, all the participants were required to perform a proprioceptive task of elbow joint position sense (JPS) in the same experimental conditions. Results: A significant effect of taping condition was found for concentric elbow peak torque (p=0.01). Post hoc analysis revealed a statistically significant concentric elbow peak torque improvement between NT and KT (p<0.05) but not between NT and PT. As regards eccentric elbow peak torque, we found a significant effect of taping condition (p<0.0001). Significant eccentric elbow peak torque differences were observed between NT and PT (p<0.01) and between KT and PT (p<0.001), while the increase observed from NT to KT conditions failed to reach significance at a post hoc analysis. Conclusions: When applied over the biceps brachii, KT increases concentric elbow peak torque in a population of healthy participants, if compared with a PT.