The Efficacy of KT Tape for Knee Pain

The Efficacy of KT Tape for Knee Pain


Popular in the rehab world, knee KT tape or Kinesiology Tape, is an elastic tape designed to mimic the elasticity and thickness of human skin, and its primary function is to provide support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting movement. Knee KT tape is often used by athletes and individuals dealing with various musculoskeletal injuries or conditions, such as strains, sprains, and overuse injuries. It is also often utilized for preventive purposes or to manage swelling and inflammation.   

Although KT tape can be used on different areas of the body, it is most commonly seen being used on the knee. KT tape for knee pain has grown in popularity primarily due its perceived benefits and versatility. Throughout this article we will break down these perceived benefits and give the reader further insight as to why KT tape on the knee is not the most advantageous way to address your knee pain.


KT Tape Knee

While both of these interventions are used to provide support and stability to the knee, they differ in their design, function and level of support they offer:

  1. Design & Material 
    • Knee Brace: Typically rigid or semi-rigid made of materials like neoprene, metal or plastic. Designed to be worn around the knee joint, providing external support and limiting movement to varying degrees. 
    • KT Tape: An elastic and flexible adhesive tape that mimics the elasticity of human skin. It is made of cotton with an acrylic adhesive and can stretch in multiple directions. 
  1. Level of Support
    • Knee Brace: Generally offer a higher level of support due to their rigid and semi-rigid construction. They are commonly used for more severe injuries or conditions, such as ligament tears (e.g., ACL or MCL tears), post-surgery recovery or with individuals with chronic knee instability. 
    • KT Tape: Provides a more moderate level of support compared to knee braces. Often used in minor injuries, muscle strains, or as a preventive measure during physical activities to help reduce the risk of overuse injuries. 
  1. Range of Motion
    • Knee Brace: Depending on type and design, knee braces can limit the range of motion to protect and stabilize the knee joint. Some knee braces are hinged to provide additional support while allowing controlled movement. 
    • KT Tape: Designed to be applied in specific patterns that can support the knee while allowing a near-normal range of motion. It does not restrict movement to the same extent as knee braces. 
  1. Application
    • Knee Brace: Worn directly on the knee joint and usually requires straps or closures to secure them in place. 
    • KT Tape: Applied directly to the skin surrounding the knee joint. The specific taping technique can vary based on the intended purpose, and it is typically stretchy enough to move with the body. 
  1. Use Cases
    • Knee Brace: Commonly used for post-injury, during sports activities, or in situations  where more substantial support is required. 
    • KT Tape: Often used for minor knee injuries, muscle soreness, patellar tracking issues, or as a preventive measure during physical activities. 

Although there are slight differences between the two, the perceived benefits of both these approaches is essentially the same. They provide support, help with pain, and provide proprioceptive feedback (awareness of the body in space). When utilizing KT tape for knee pain, some medical experts will also say that it improves circulation and lymphatic flow.



At Functional Patterns, we tend to take a systems approach to problem solving. When analyzing the perceived benefits of KT tape for the knee, it simply does not help us in understanding the root of the problem. Almost 100% of the time, humans are dealing with some sort of movement imbalance, leading them to feeling pain or discomfort in their body. 

KT Tape Knee      KT Tape Knee

It is common to observe certain muscle chains short and tight, and others long and weak.  When utilizing something like KT tape for your knee pain, you are not addressing these muscle imbalances and simply just kicking the can down the road. Applying a bandaid-like approach to solving years having movement imbalances is not going to fix your pain and oftentimes makes it symptoms worse over the course of time. Now imagine the lady on the right just taped KT taped her knees and went about her days. It might have temporarily helped her knee pain but would it have helped her entire body move in a more efficient and effortless manner? Probably not. Visualize a large crack in the foundational pillar/beam holding your house up. You wouldn’t just try to super glue it or nail it back together. You would have to replace the whole pillar most likely, rebuilding parts of the house around it. Putting tape on your knee, like in the picture above, is equivalent to trying to super glue the crack in your home's foundational pillar/beam. Symptoms, like knee pain, stem from improper distributions of tension throughout the body. Therefore, as she starts to improve her posture through movement, her knee pain starts to subside without directly addressing the knees. This is what we mean when we say address the system, not the symptoms.    

KT Tape Knee

Getting sustainable results comes hand in hand with adopting a long term approach to solving the problem. When you start training your body in relation to our biological blueprint  (standing, walking, running and throwing), you are directly addressing the root of  what caused your knee pain in the first place. Getting adequate amounts of sunlight, grounding/earthing, focusing on your nutrition and getting an appropriate amount of sleep all comes hand in hand when addressing the system. The brain and body are an integrated and complex machine and when you treat it how nature intended, handling stress becomes much more manageable and pain free living becomes an afterthought.  


So can KT tape help with your knee pain? Sure. But for how long? 

In a 2014 systematic review of randomized control trials from the Journal of Physiotherapy,  overall, KT taping was no better than sham taping/placebo. (1) When thinking deeply about the issues we face as humans, knee pain is so prevalent and rampant we cannot continue to adopt conventional ways of finally solving this problem for good. KT tape for knee pain is a mere bandaid to a deep wound we as humans have been plagued with for centuries. 

KT Tape Knee

As explained in further detail in this article, braces and all forms of bracing such as knee KT tape is a passive approach to a problem that requires active engagement. When utilizing KT tape for the knee, it doesn’t change the way your brain is responding to the environment enough to make a lasting impact.  Utilizing techniques such as myofascial release followed by postural corrective  exercise is a much more systematized and effective approach to going about solving this problem and making the lasting changes the brain needs. 



KT tape for knee pain is clearly just another example of addressing symptoms and not systems. As people become more impatient and less resilient to stress, they will keep reaching for knee braces and KT tape to help kick the can down the road. Although knee KT tape appears to have appeal because of its ease of application, variety of colors and designs, popularity amongst athletes, and marketing and media exposure, its effectiveness is still a subject of debate in the scientific community. 

Functional Patterns offers a results based approach to solving the lingering issue of knee pain. Getting right at the source of the issue and cutting out all the middle men in between, never needing KT tape on the knee again. Curious to learn more about how Functional Patterns continue to produce breathtaking results? Check us out this video discussing our method or on Instagram


  1. Parreira Pdo C, Costa Lda C, Hespanhol LC Jr, Lopes AD, Costa LO. Current evidence does not support the use of Kinesio Taping in clinical practice: a systematic review. J Physiother. 2014 Mar;60(1):31-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2013.12.008. Epub 2014 Apr 24. PMID: 24856938.


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