KT Tape for lower back pain is becoming more common.
Is it actually effective or is it just a big band-aid solution – pun intended?
What is the effect of KT Tape generally?
KT Tape, also known as dynamic tape, is a very elastic adhesive tape applied to the skin.
It doesn’t provide any restriction to movement in the way that classic rigid tape does (that is, as a physical barrier to movement.)
Its job is to provide additional feedback to the brain to assist in controlling movement.
As the trunk/limb moves through range of motion, the tape pulls on the skin and provides increased awareness of that movement.
This can be particularly useful in situations where the normal feedback mechanisms have been disrupted, such as ligament damage, or when improved control of the limb can reduce the risk of reinjury.
When using KT Tape for lower back pain, the intended purpose is to improve the awareness of posture and position.
What are the causes of lower back pain?
In modern medicine, this is literally the trillion-dollar question.
Lower back pain is the most common musculoskeletal injury in the world and accounts for huge amounts of time off work and lost productivity.
You can imagine the research dollars that have been poured in to discovering the cause of lower back pain.
So far, after around 50 years of research, we’ve got (almost) nothing.
We know what doesn’t cause lower back pain and we know who’s most at risk of lower back pain but we haven’t cracked the formula on exactly who will get it.
Posture as a cause of lower back pain has been found to be unreliable as a predictive cause.
So if you fix your posture, it doesn’t save you from lower back pain.
Once you’ve got lower back pain, it’s a slightly different story.
The change in posture that we see in those suffering lower back pain is the body’s way of trying to move away from the pain.
But it can also lead to early muscle fatigue and increased soreness later in the day.
How effective is KT Tape for lower back pain?
As mentioned above, KT Tape is not effective in preventing lower back pain episodes.
KT Tape may have a small role in reducing soreness after the onset of lower back pain.
But it’ll only be effective in those who have poor adaptive strategies – in people who subconsciously adjust their posture for the lower back pain but inadvertently cause more pain.
As a Physiotherapist, our advice would be that it’s not the first thing to try after the start of a lower back pain episode.
But if you’re running out of options or if you feel like improved posture might assist your lower back pain in resolving faster, then it’s worth a try.
How to fit KT Tape for lower back pain
The trick to KT Tape for lower back pain to improve posture is to ensure that the tension is just right.
If you’re using it for standing posture, it should be fitted while you’re standing.
Vice versa if you’re using it for your sitting posture, you should apply it while sitting.
Step 1: Move yourself to the position you’d like to be in – that is the posture that gives you the most relief from your symptoms.
Step 2: Apply the KT Tape with only a tiny amount of tension as it comes off its sticky backing.
Once in place, you should only be aware of the tape sticking to your skin without a great deal of tension.
If it already feels like it’s pulling firmly, you need to reduce the amount of tension by removing half the tape and reapplying it over a slightly shorter area.
Step 3: If you then slump down or move into the undesirable posture, you should feel the tape increase noticeably in tension.
If you don’t feel the tape increase in tension, you need to adjusted to be firmer.
Just lift half of the tape off and reapply it over a slightly longer area to increase its base level of tension.
All done: So the end result is a tape that is barely noticeable when you’re in the correct position and distinctly pulling on the skin when you move into the undesirable position.