02F00962As you watched the games from Rio this summer, you may have noticed a significant number of athletes wearing brightly colored tape on their knees, shoulders or torsos. Fans of this tape, invented in 1979 by a Japanese chiropractor, claim it can enhance athletic performance by prolonging the effects of physiologic work.

Traditional athletic taping involves applying a rigid, adhesive strapping tape to limit range of motion and constrict muscle movement. The purpose of this kind of taping is to support injured areas, while potentially helping prevent new injuries. Typically, this type of tape is removed after the athlete has finished practicing or competing.

The newer, colored tape is made of cotton fiber with an acrylic heat-activated backing that stretches lengthwise up to 60%. The thickness and weight of the tape is supposed to mimic the thickness and weight of the skin. Supporters say that using this kinesiology tape changes muscle tone, moves lymphatic fluids, corrects movement patterns and improves posture. It provides neurosensory feedback so that the wearer feels less pain or discomfort, and it helps facilitate muscle contraction and endurance.

So can wearing this tape actually improve performance? “The jury is still out on the hard and fast science of it,” says John Brewer, head of sport and exercise sciences and director of sport at the University of Bedfordshire in the United Kingdom. “I’m still struggling to come to terms with how tape that is placed on skin can have any real, major effect on performance, other than potentially, a psychological effect.”

Several small scientific trials have shown that kinesiology tape relieves pain and improves function, but a systematic review and a meta-analysis (two methods that researchers use to combine many small studies to see larger trends) failed to turn up any convincing evidence. Still, the tape does hold some
, especially in treating knee and shoulder pain.

Using this tape requires specific placement on the skin in a special pattern before exercising. If you wish to give kinesiology tape a try, we can instruct you on the proper methods for positioning it to address your needs. More important, we can devise a specific exercise plan that will help you achieve your individual goals and remain injury-free.

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