Every four years, athletes representing their countries don their respective uniforms and flags. However, a different type of wearable accessory has gradually been making more and more frequent appearances on both the biggest stage in sports, and in everyday athletic use. Though it has been several months since the past Summer Olympics, kinesio tape can be found in almost any sporting goods store.
Originally donated to athletes in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, kinesio (k-knee-see-o) tape, or K-tape for short, was seen on the arms and legs of volleyball players. Most people thought it was just regular tape, or maybe the players had some weird tattoos? Even though its appearance and use has increased over the years, and more people know of it, the function of K-tape is described as "helping athletes." But what does it do exactly?
Kinesiology is the study of body mechanics and movement, so then kinesio tape must help with body movement, right? Correct! However, K-tape is more elastic than regular athletic tape. When it is stretched over a joint such as an elbow or wrist, the elasticity gently pulls on the joint, encouraging a wider range of motion by assisting in mobility. But, kinesio tape doesn't only aid in joint stabilization and mobility.
Kinesio tape is very sturdy, and can stay on for days at a time. The tape comes in both pre-cut and uncut sets and under a variety of names, but all serve the wearer similarly. No matter the brand name, the adhesive, combined with the tape's elasticity, manages to lift the skin up on a microscopic level. This lifting effect creates space underneath the skin in the interstitial fluid, promoting circulation and healing, such as reducing inflammation.
Overall, kinesio tape is very handy in recovering from injuries such as sprains by draining fluid, which normally inhibits the range of motion. Additionally, its durability allows for prolonged active wear for athletes who want a little more than what standard athletic tape can provide.
"Definition of Kinesiology." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2016
"What is the Kinesio Taping Method?" Kinesio Taping. Kinesio, n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2016
Crawford, Stephanie. "How Kinesio Tape Works." HowStuffWorks. HowStuffWorks.com, 09 May 2011. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.
Authored by David Pitts, Jr.