Quite likely you have seen athletes using Kinesio tape; brightly colored tape covering the legs, torso, arms, shoulders and other body parts. It is not so much a fashion statement of these athletes, they believe that Kinesio tape gives them medical benefits.
This elastic cotton tape, which was invented in the 1970’s by a Japanese doctor, can stay longer on the person’s skin than the traditional tape and can stretch up to 140% of its normal length.
Use of Kinesio tape
Kinesio tape is used by athletes that suffer from injury problems, but still want to be able to move freely, since the tape provides support and stability. It is often used for problems like tennis elbow, RSI, Achilles tendon, knee-, ankle-, back- and neck injuries. The tape is available per roll as well as pre-cut packages. Most of these packages contain strips for a specific body part.
The inventor of Kinesio tape claims that the tape can relax muscles, alleviate pain and enhance performance.
How does Kinesio tape work?
People using Kinesio tape explain that the tape lifts their skin, which increases the flow of blood and the fluids that cause a swelling. Furthermore, since Kinesio tape was designed to follow the contours of the body, it allows free movement, puts less pressure on certain muscles and causes less friction between the tissues in the skin.
Athletes do not really feel the tape, since it was designed with the body of the athletes in mind. The tape is very elastic, so it moves with the sportsman or –woman and feels different than the traditional white tape.
Does Kinesio tape work?
The most important question: does Kinesio tape work? And that question is hard to answer!
Scientists have conducted various studies to see if the use of Kinesio tape actually yielded athletes a clear demonstrable benefit. None of these studies showed a clear effect, but the scientists think the so-called placebo effect might be apply here. They think athletes are performing better, because these sportspeople think the colorful tape will help and that gives a boost to their confidence. So the main benefit might be more a mental one, rather than a physical one.
(Source: Wikipedia, WebMD; Image source: Amazon)