Shin splints are one of the most feared sports injuries because of their debilitating pain and slow healing. Despite there being little to no scientific research specifically showing shin splint improvement with kinesiology tape, many athletes swear by using it for this purpose and a number of others.1
It's believed by some that the therapeutic tape, which is applied to the skin to support the area without restricting movement, may help facilitate muscular contraction of the anterior tibialis muscle—the one afflicted when you have shin splints. Kinesiology tape is also thought to improve blood flow to your muscle by gently lifting up the skin and tissues over the anterior tibialis.
Before applying kinesiology tape to your body, review the specific types of strips available and familiarize yourself with contraindications for their use. In severe cases, you may want to consult with a medical professional first.
Kinesiology taping is a newer treatment in physical therapy and many of the techniques used have not been fully tested under scientific scrutiny.
Limited research suggests:
Kinesiology tape may be superior to minimal intervention.2
Different brands have significant differences in terms of maximum force and how well they work. You may have to try different brands to get results, though no brand can guarantee improvement.3
Tape color most likely produces no difference in results.4
How to Apply Kinesiology Tape for Shin Splints
Kinesiology taping for shin splints is simple to do using a technique called the anterior tibialis bridge.
Shave your shins, if needed. Thick hair may affect how the tape adheres to your skin.
Cut an "I" strip of kinesiology tape about 3 inches shorter than the length of your shin.
Tear off about 2 inches of the paper backing on one end of the "I" strip.
Apply the tape to the top part of your anterior tibialis muscle. To find this muscle, flex your ankle so your toes lift toward your knee. The muscle is located about 2 inches below the lateral (outer) aspect of your knee.
Once one end is applied to your anterior tibialis, slowly remove the paper backing.
Flexing your ankle up again, stretch the other end of the kinesiology tape to the top of your foot by your big toe, but do not apply the middle section of tape to your leg. You should now have created a tape bridge over your shin.
Starting at the end of the tape just below your knee, press it onto your shin as you point your foot and ankle down. Move your fingers quickly down the tape to affix it to your anterior tibialis muscle.
Gently rub the tape to warm and activate the adhesive.
Kinesiology tape can be worn for two to five days, and you can get it wet. Watch out for signs of irritation around the tape, however, and remove it if your skin starts to itch or becomes red.
Rub some baby oil onto the top of the strip to loosen it, then peel downward.
A Word From Verywell
Many athletes claim good results from kinesiology tape, but your results may vary. For shin splits that show little or slow improvement, you may want to consult a sports medicine physician or physical therapist. A professional can suggest further exercises and self-management techniques for your shin splints.