How to Use Kinesiology Tape to Treat SI Joint Pain

Kinesiology tape—a therapeutic tape that provides support, while allowing for movement—may help treat sacroiliac joint (SIJ) pain by decreasing muscle spasm, facilitating muscular function, increasing blood flow to the area, and decreasing muscle trigger points. This lower back ailment, which is particularly common during pregnancy, is located on one or both sides of your back just above your buttocks, seems to come and go, and can limit your ability to bend, sit, and perform many recreational activities.

Kinesiotape being placed on woman's back by Physical trainer
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If you think you may be experiencing SIJ dysfunction and are interested in trying kinesiology tape, speak with your doctor or physical therapist. Some people with specific conditions should avoid using the tape, so you should get confirmation that it's safe for you to use.

You should also familiarize yourself with the various types of kinesiology tape strips. KT Tape, Kinseo Tex, and Spartan Tape are just a few brand name options.

How It Works

Some small studies have found that taping the SI joint has benefits, such as improved joint function and increased lumbar flexibility, as well as reducing pain and disability.

One theory about the mechanism at work with kinesiology tape: It helps lift the overlying tissue off of your painful SI joint, which can help decrease the pressure around it.

Another theory is that the lifting of tissues helps create a pressure differential under the tape, allowing for increased circulation to the tissues surrounding your SI joint. This helps bring in fresh blood and nutrients, and creates an environment where optimal healing can take place.

How to Apply Kinesiology Tape to Your SI Joint

You have a sacroiliac joint on the right and left sides of your body, each of which connects the pelvis to the sacrum (lowest part of the spine). So that you apply the kinesiology tape to the right place, be sure you locate the lowest part of the back within the pelvic area.

If you're not sure if you can reach the area you need to treat, ask a friend or family member help you, if possible.

Then, follow these simple steps:

  1. Cut three strips of tape, each 4 to 6 inches in length each.
  2. Sit in a chair and bend your body forward slightly. If someone is helping, you can stand, slightly bent forward.
  3. Tear the lift-off strip in the middle and stretch the tape to expose several inches of adhesive while leaving the ends of the strip covered. Apply the exposed tape at an angle over your SI joint (as if making the first line of an X), just above the buttocks, with 100% stretch on the tape.
  4. Peel the lift-off strips from the ends and adhere them with no stretch.
  5. Repeat the application steps above with a second strip, adhering it at a 45-degree angle to your first strip. You should now have an X over your SIJ.
  6. Repeat with the final strip, adhering it horizontally across the X made by the first two pieces of kinesiology tape. You should now have a star-shape pattern of tape over your SIJ.

Kinesiology tape can stay over your SIJ for three to five days. Be sure to watch for signs of irritation around the tape. If your skin becomes irritated, remove the tape and check in with your physical therapist for other treatment options for your pain.

A Word From Verywell

Kinesiology tape is a relatively new treatment and very little scientific data exists on the effect of using the tape for your SIJ pain. Does that mean it doesn't work? Not necessarily, but it is important to understand that different brands have significant differences in terms of maximum force and how well they work. You may have to try different ones to get results, though no brand can guarantee improvement.

If you have severe SIJ pain that resists self-management, see a doctor or physical therapist for an evaluation and to learn the correct exercises and treatments to help manage your condition.

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Article Sources
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  1. Al-subahi M, Alayat M, Alshehri MA, et al. The effectiveness of physiotherapy interventions for sacroiliac joint dysfunction: a systematic review. J Phys Ther Sci. 2017;29(9):1689-1694. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.1689

  2. Do-Yun Shin and Ju-Young Heo. The Effects of Kinesiotaping Applied onto Erector Spinae and Sacroiliac Joint on Lumbar Flexibility. J Kor Phys Ther 2017;29(6):307-315. doi:https://doi.org/10.18857/jkpt.2017.29.6.307

  3. Selva, F., Pardo, A., Aguado, X. et al. A study of reproducibility of kinesiology tape applications: review, reliability and validityBMC Musculoskelet Disord 20, 153 (2019) doi:10.1186/s12891-019-2533-0

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