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Here’s Why Olympic Athletes Wear That Weird Tape On Their Body

Have you ever wondered why the Olympic athletes wear that colourful tape across their body? The2016 Olympics is looming closer and following the trend set during the Olympics 2008 and 2012, the athletes will cover their bodies in stripes of colourful tape. The tape is known as the kinesiology tape or the Kinesio tape.


Image Source: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach


Quite a few varieties of the Kinesio tape are available on the shelves. Most of the athletes participating in the Olympics 2008 and 2012, preferred the Kinesio Tex Tape. The USA Team has also appointed KT Tape as its “official kinesiology tape licensee.”


Image Source: REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo


The KT Tape was developed in Japan, and the company website says that:

 “[It] alleviates discomfort and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin. [The Kinesio Tape can be] applied over muscles to reduce pain and inflammation, relax overused or tired muscles, and support muscles in movement on a 24-hour-a-day basis.”

The KT Tape has been developed to provide external support to your body. Thus, it keeps you active as your body recovers from injuries. KT Tape creates proprioception, the neuromuscular feedback that facilitates muscular action.

Image Source: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini


The makers of the KT Tape say that it can be used to treat conditions like headaches and sore muscles to shin splints. However, these claims need to be experimentally verified.

Interestingly, despite the huge number of athletes relying on the athletic tape to enhance their performance, the researchers have not come across any particular benefits of using the tape. The clinical research conducted on the patients with various musculoskeletal conditions concluded that the Kinesio Tape did not alleviate their suffering in any way.


Image Source: REUTERS


However, another study carried out by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that:

“Kinesio taping is superior to minimal intervention for pain relief.”

A few studies indicate that taping can slightly increase the range of motion. Thus, the use of Kinesio  Tex Tape or the KT Tape may affect the pain or the degree of movement to a certain extent.

So, it seems that there could potentially be some small effect for pain or range of motion from Kinesio Tex Tape or KT Tape, but that effect is not a significant one. Apart from the athletes participating in the Olympics, international sports stars including Lance Armstrong and David Beckham have also used this tape.

Where the competitions are won or lost by a fraction of a second, even the minimum enhancement in performance could become increasingly important. Or it may be the placebo effect when people think something is helping them and feel better already. The Human and Applied Physiology Professor Steve Harridge believes:

 “The fact that athletes think it’s going to do them some good can help in a psychological way.”

The Kinesio tape may be all the encouragement that an athlete needs to push him forward and win a spot at the podium.