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The Role of Kinesio Tape in Sports

Posted on: August 28th, 2012 by admin No Comments
Chiropractor kinesio tape

Beach volleyball champion Kerri Walsh wearing athletic tape. (Natacha Pisarenko/The Associated Press)

A rather recent phenomena in sports is the increased use of kinesio tape by athletes. Nowhere is this more evident than at the recent London Olympics. This tape looks like colorful strips and patches across the body. It comes in just about every color and was visible on volleyball players, gymnasts, divers, and more. Though many people know this tape is something prescribed by a chiropractor, they don’t know what it’s actually used for.

Kinesio tape also goes by the name of elastic therapeutic tape and supposedly helps to relieve inflammation in the muscles. It may also help with tendonitis. While many athletes and chiropractors swear by the tape, there haven’t really been any scientific studies to prove these effects. At least, there haven’t been any studies that look at the effects of the tape on its own without the use of other pain relief methods in conjunction with it.

Some believe the presence of the tape on the body reminds athletes to be cautious with how they use the affected muscles and take it easy. Others think there is an actual physical benefit but it’s just not understood yet.

The tape first burst onto the athletic scene in the 1970s when it was invented by Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor. The tape is designed to move with the body and stretch just like skin does. It’s not designed to limit movement. It made a larger splash at the 2008 Olympics, appearing on beach volleyball players, most notably. However, it was on every athlete imaginable at the 2012 Olympics.

One theory about how the tape works is that it pulls on the skin, lifting it from the deeper tissue layers and allowing for greater blood flow, which helps reduce inflammation. The pressure applied may also reduce pain sensations. Again, there haven’t been enough studies done to confirm or deny these results. Many studies don’t have control groups, either, which is problematic.

While there is no evidence the tape is effective, many athletes can attest to its benefits and don’t hit the field without it. It has an amazing effect on people’s performance, that is for certain. It’s unlikely that your chiropractor would quit recommending this tape anytime soon because of the benefits reported. Even though they’re anecdotal, there’s no harm in at least giving kinesio tape a try for your minor muscle injuries. It just might be the thing you need to improve your physical condition.