Just as they always do, the athletes of the Olympic Games Rio 2016 delivered jaw-dropping runs and performances, but they also left us with a few questions. The most common question is probably, ‘How do they do that?!’, but with more expletives. However, another thing viewers are curious about is that colorful tape seen on some of the athletes’ bodies. These strips are known as Kinesiology Tape, or more commonly Kinesio Tape. It was developed by Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kase in the 1970s but we only really started to see it in the mid-1990s, says *The Wall Street Journal*. By looking at the Mueller brand, we learned that this rehabilitative adhesive is used to ‘maintain flexibility, improve circulation, and relieve pain.’ Furthermore, it is ‘designed to aid in the treatment of ligament injuries, muscle conditioning, fascia repositioning, and even carpal tunnel syndrome, it is applied to the skin in patterns to mimic your muscles.’ Want to learn more about how it works? Continue reading for photos and details.It may seem like a new trend, but Dr. Kenzo Kase of Japan founded the Kinesio Taping Method in 1979 after years of testing, research, and trial. Chiropractors rely on natural ways to relieve pain, so he worked on engineering a tape to do so. In an interview with The Guardian, he noted that our pain sensors are between the epidermis and the dermis, so when you apply the tape to the injured area, it lifts the epidermis slightly up and creates a space between the two layers. This helps blood flow to the problem area. In the same interview, he mentioned that the tape can also be used on animals, anything from dogs to flamingos!
We’ve seen Kinesio Tape on professional athletes and Olympians. They look like random shapes and patterns on the body, but according to physical therapist Graceann Forrester, the cotton, latex-free tape is pulled to varying degrees of tension depending on the problem and can be worn for two to five days.
During this time, it can help pull back a hunching shoulder or reduce swelling in an area by pulling up the skin, which leads to low enough pressure for the fluid to move and drain.
According to physical therapist Holly Moriarty, applying tape to a tired muscle can help it ‘go on vacation for a day or two so they come back healed.’
The Olympic Gold Medalist is a paid endorser for KT Tape and is often seen with the strips on her body.
In a video, she explained, “No matter what happens, I can apply that support to myself. I love that I can do it myself, I love that I can ask my trainer to do it.” In the same video, she talked about how the tape is used to activate certain muscles or deactivate them ‘so other muscles can take over.’
One reason why the therapeutic Kinesio tape is so popular is because it is a non-drug treatment. Another reason is that the athletes who use it see it not only as a physical support but a mental one as well. They can see and feel it, a boost that can really make the difference during those critical moments.
Some athletes and physical therapists fully support the use of Kinesio Tape, saying that it adds support and confidence. They’ll say that it has worked wonders for them and their clients. Others, like Dr. Nicholas Fletcher, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery believes that it has a placebo effect. The athletes push themselves a little harder because they believe they are capable, whether or not the tape actually does provide the promised support. Dr. Fletcher also believes in a peer pressure effect in which folks will look up to their favorite athletes and want to use it too. So, our answer to ‘Does Kinseio Tape really work?’ is ‘It depends on who you talk to.’