Kinesio Tape, the Olympics, and beyond

The Internet world and sporting world is a buzz with Kinesio tape.

If you’ve watched any of the Olympics, you’ve probably seen it.  It’s the black tape on shoulders of athletes like volleyballer Kerri Walsh.  And no, it’s not a tattoo, but it may have helped her and her teammate, Misty May-Treanor win some gold. You may have also seen it various pink or blue colors on a LOT of other athletes as well. Do only Olympic athletes use this mystical, magical tape?  No.  A lot of other superstar athletes have used it including Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams, and whole slew of others. Sure, the makers of the tape say it’s good for athletes, but it’s also good for the everyday athlete and more run of the mill things.

So, what is the magical tape good for other than winning gold medals and Tour de France?  Basically, you could think of it as athletic tape on steroids (and from the planet Krypton).  Normal athletic tape is used for taping up weak joints and muscles to get someone moving again.  It’s not very stretchy, it’s not the nicest to remove from body hair, but it does do it’s job.

This is where Kinesio tape takes the cake.  It is significantly stretchier than normal tape–the makers claim it can stretch up to 130-140% of it’s normal length.  Try that athletic tape!  Plus, their some sort of sticky magic, I’ve seen it applied to a (hairy) forearm, and removed without even the slightest grimace.  It’s stretchy nature also allows for two types of applications–stretched and unstretched.  The way you use it depends on whether you looking to increase fluid flow to an area to aid healing, or if there is a musculoskeletal injury you’re trying to support. So, it can be used to help support injured joints and muscles to (according to the manufacturer) relieve pain and speed healing.  This is of obvious benefit as a palliative measure to anyone whose had these issues but still needed to make full use that area–so pretty much everyone.  Some of the athletes are using it in post-surgery situations to help protect them as they get back to their activities.

Another advantage over normal athletic tape is it’s width.  This allows the Kinesio tape to be cut into those fun shapes you’re seeing all over the Olympics.  The shapes are designed to follow the natural path of the muscles across the body.  I’ve only ever seen athletic tape really used to help shore up joints by wrapping them tightly in place, usually adding support at the expense of mobility.  As the name “Kinesio tape” evokes, it allows the wearer to still move with the tape in place.

The tape is also water resistant, which is why some swimmers/water polo players are wearing it, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen happen with any from of normal athletic tape.

It’s an interesting product, and I’m curious if it would be any supporting benefit to the Rolfing process.  The added lymph flow would definitely be an assist in any area that has a lot of fascial adhesions that have just been broken up to help get the re-released toxins out of the area.

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