That Bright Tape so Many Olympic Athletes Have On is Made of Cotton!

I’m not sure how many of the events I watched during this summer’s Olympics. More than I should have probably, but I did watch a bit from the seat of a stationary bike so maybe it isn’t too bad. But as we watch the closing ceremony on Sunday, I bet we won’t see one of the new stars that was made. I mean cotton. What? You didn’t see it? I saw a whole lot of it but until cotton friend Wes Underwood drew it my attention to it, I hadn’t realized it.

athlete wrapped knee with kinesio tape

photo via cc from mikep on Flicker

Okay, I know there was a lot of performance wear on athletes. You see uniforms know with slick stripes for aerodynamics or to help ensure they glide the swimmer through the water. Those aren’t cotton. And most of the athletes wore the gray jackets which also appeared to be mostly man-made materials. However, cotton was seen in the pool, on the volleyball and basketball courts, throughout track and field events, on soccer fields and more.

It’s everywhere: on abs, legs, backs, even backsides.

The neon tape swathing sprinters and swimmers alike, called Kinesio, is taking London by storm.

“It’s all over the Olympics,” said Dr. Jennifer Solomon of New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery. “Athletes love it.”

Developed by a Japanese chiropractor, Kinesio claims to cut pain and boost performance. And judging by its prominence at this year’s Games, athletes think it works.

“If you ask them, they say it does,” said Solomon, team physician for the U.S. Tennis Association. “But there’s no solid scientific evidence that this tape helps.”

Crafted from cotton and medical grade adhesive, Kinesio is more flexible than traditional tape. And when strategically strewn along injured muscles, its gentle tug promotes circulation to help clear out damage, according to its maker.

via Injured Olympians Turn to Tape: The Sticky Science of Kinesio – ABC News.

Looking around to learn more I found more and more elaborate placings of the tape and find it interesting that the folks behind Kinesio do training sessions as the tape should be placed in certain ways based on the injury, muscles, joints, etc. Some of the designs at the Olympics have almost look artistic as you see six-packs striped and shoulders sculpted.

Kinesio describes the tape as “elastic therapeutic taping” as being made of gentle cotton fiber that can be worn for 3 to 5 days providing 24 hour treatment. On the website, they highlight several points on what it does on the website including:

  • It creates a lifting effect on the skin’s surface, which improves circulation and relieves pain.
  • It may be applied using different amounts and directions of tension, so the tape has the ability to relax or stimulate muscles.
  • It does not limit the wearer?s range of motion.
  • The distinctive wave-pattern weave moves with the wearer?s movements.

It seems that this is the latest thing athletes feel improves performance. It’s hard to tell where science ends and the power of positive thinking begins. And I bet this will be much like those necklaces you couldn’t help but notice in the World Series, they will be showing up on courts, diamonds, pools and all in our own neighborhoods. Products like this don’t have to be reviewed by the FDA (which reviews foods and drugs that make health claims) but it seems clear, athletes think these things make a difference and performance has such a mental component that maybe you see athletes excel if they’ve had a recent stress taped.

I have to say, I think this may be found in a lot of other areas of life, not just sports. If a mental or emotional component leads someone to think something is better, then it truly is better for them. It just may not translate to being better for all of us. And it may not be proved through science. There may be some science there, just not indesputable. On other things, full scientific packages have been reviewed and found solid by some and yet that still isn’t enough for others. A lack of scientific support surely doesn’t mean we won’t see it anymore.

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About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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6 Responses to That Bright Tape so Many Olympic Athletes Have On is Made of Cotton!


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