The health Industry is a marketing goldmine.

Whether it be shoes that make you go faster, higher, longer, the new super food that does wonders for your waistline or the latest miracle cure. The health and fitness industry has a plethora of fads and gadgets for you to spend your money on.   

Often products are contentious, over-hyped by marketing spin – validated by marketing disguised as investigative writing.  “Fake News” is not isolated to the political world – however when fake news transitions into healthcare, it has real-world consequences.   

Understandably, marketing misinformation promoted as science riles the academic world, who fiercely take a stand against fads and continue to relentlessly scrutinise established ideas and philosophies. This academic philosophy has generated a new breed of health practitioner which challenges the establishment, promoting evidence-based approaches and high value care at an almost obsessive level.  

What results is a cauldron of debate – because research in many areas of health care is flimsy at best- where both sides of an argument are highly invested at some level. Some financially, most emotionally – all protecting their space. The debate can be fierce in the pursuit of being right and “winning the internet.”

But what happens when both sides of the argument suffer from the same deficiencies of unfettered bias, inadequate objectivity, poor research and lazy journalism? 

No One Wins.

Highly regarded running magazine, Runner’s World recently published an article about K-Tape – the brightly coloured adhesive bandages that have become increasingly popular with many athletes over the last decade.  K-Tape has been one of the more contentious products released in recent times, with much of the research around the product showing it has minimal, if any, benefit.  

When the Runner’s World article was published and was heavily promoted through social media – it was like a red rag to a bull.  

The Twitter response was brutal.  Involving your typical cyber chest beating, led by our industry’s leading researchers “calling out” Runner’s World, brandishing their academic superiority with a legion of follower’s joining in with the confected outrage and a plethora of meme’s, all amping up the ridicule.  It was cyber bullying – the academic edition.  

The article was clearly marketing disguised as factual content. The problem was, that with all the chest beating – the academic critics in a frenzy, fell foul of the factual inaccuracies and fake news that they themselves had accused Runner’s World of.  Fake news became real news.  

Now for the record, I don’t use Kinesio tape or it’s variations.  An audit of the clinic today, found three roles of K-Tape (two pink, one blue) all given to the clinic for free by suppliers – all unused – so I come to this discussion without skin in the game. 

My problem is that the response to the article and the actions of the “pack” displayed a level of discourse which unfortunately is all too familiar in online discussion these days.  The debate that turns to ridicule knowing that you can delete your tweets once the damage is done.  

Disappointingly, the Australian Physiotherapy Association, rather than be a moderate voice, endorsed the behaviour, when they circulated a media release leveraging the interest in the Runner’s World article to promote physiotherapy research in this space. However in doing so, they committed the same errors that Runner’s World was accused of making – poor research and overreach – and it was shameless.

In a media release titled “Kinesio tape not the answer to preventing runner’s knee and other injuries”, which highlighted quotes from respected physiotherapy researcher Dr Christian Barton, the APA opened with the line, “The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has rejected claims made in an article in US Runner’s World magazine that the use of Kinesio tape can prevent injury such as knee cap pain.”

This is awkward because the Runner’s World article made no such claim.  What the article did say was that to manage these injuries,  “pair taping with these exercises for the most effective plan.” Advocating exercise as the long-term strategy for managing the injuries involved, whilst suggesting kinesio taping as a temporary tool to stop pain “derailing your run.”    

This is also where the contradiction lies and the bias revealed. Because the APA, so alarmed by this misinformation, in their rebuttal article direct their readers to guidelines, co-written by Dr Barton, that proffer almost identical advice.  

“Clinicians may use tailored patellar taping in combination with exercise therapy to assist in immediate pain reduction, and to enhance outcomes of exercise therapy in the short term (4 weeks).”

Déjà vu?

I imagine in this article the authors were referring to normal athletic tape rather than Kinesio tape for their guidelines, but even athletic tapes effectiveness is questionable after just a few minutes1.  So why no outcry there?

So, after all the outrage the question must be asked – in a world where the truth matters – was it the message or just the messenger?

So what is the go?

My take – Kinesio tape, if it does have some benefit, has a benefit not greater than using normal adhesive athletic tape when the use of tape is appropriate.  

For running injuries, in our experience, taping has a limited use but there are many other preferable treatment methods to manage your injury. These include specific rehabilitation exercises, load management and technique alteration and retraining modified to your requirements.

The team at CSSM are your go to team for the management of running injuries. If you are suffering a running injury or perhaps are about to undertake a running program to train towards your running goal, a running gait analysis is a great place to start. A running gait analysis will look at your running form frame by frame to understand how you run, opening up a pathway so you can improve your running, with advice to manage or prevent running injuries.  Bookings are available online.

Run Strong, Run Long.

The Effectiveness of Ankle Taping