Kinesiology Athletic Tape Gives Olympic Athletes an Edge

Kinesiology tape on Olympian Kerri Walsh's shoulder

Olympic beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh wears athletic tape on her shoulder

If you have been watching the 2012 London Olympics, you have no doubt seen athletes adorned with colorful tapes across their stomach, back, shoulders, and running up their legs. This highly visible tape can be spotted on athletes from almost every sport including beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh and track and field competitor Olga Rypakova.

This tape, called kinesiology tape, has actually been used in Olympic competitions since the late 1980s. One of the first of these tapes, Kinesio, was originally developed by Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kase, and first gained international notoriety in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Since that time, its sales have increased 300 percent and it has gained a dedicated user base, which ranges from elite athletes to weekend warriors.

High profile athletes like David Beckham, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong have been seen wearing Kinesio tape. Armstrong even dedicated an entire page of his book, “Every Second Counts,” to his use of the product for treating sore muscles.

The purpose of kinesiology tape is to help prevent injuries, improve athletic performance and reduce muscle, joint and ligament strains, as well as help control swelling. By applying the tape and limiting or increasing muscle movement, you can improve strength and range and help your body to heal itself more quickly after an injury.

Unlike traditional athletic tapes, which are rigid and inflexible, kinesiology tape is a stretchy, cotton fiber tape that can easily be stretched over any part of the body. It can also remain in place for up to five days and be worn everywhere from sandy volleyball tournaments to wet and humid swim meets.

When in place, the tape creates a lifting effect that improves circulation and reduces pain. Athletes use the tape to enhance their performance, to support weak joints and muscles, and to help avoid injury. It could be called a second muscle, as it replicates the action and elasticity of the muscle when applied to the skin in specific patterns.

There are a number of new kinesiology tapes that can be seen at the London Olympics including Dynamic Tape and SpiderTech. Each of these distinctive tape designs can be used by seasoned athletes and everyday patients. Besides improving athletic performance, they can be applied to bring relief from pregnancy discomfort, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Plantar Fasciitis, shin splints, muscles strains, rotary cuff injuries and more.

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