On the beach volleyball court, it seemed, more players than not wore lines of tape around their knees, shoulders and even in fanned strips down their abdomens. Black, blue and patterned strips appeared on gymnasts, runners, divers, discus-throwers and even table tennis players. So, what’s up with all that tape? And is it really doing anything to help?
Anecdotally, athletes and physical trainers swear by the stretchy adhesive, known as Kinesio tape or elastic therapeutic tape. If applied correctly, they say, the tape can relieve pain from tendonitis or muscle inflammation, giving competitors an athletic boost. Scientifically, though, very few studies have been done that truly isolate the effects of the tape compared to other measures that athletes take to treat and prevent injuries.
Until better data come in, it remains possible that the tape provides more of a psychological benefit than a physical one — its mere presence reminding athletes to be careful with a sore area or providing confidence through a sense that something is being done to help with healing.
“I’ve seen on the playing field and in clinics that people are getting a benefit from it,” said Mary Ann Willmarth, a doctor of physical therapy at Harvard University Health Services in Cambridge, Mass. “We need the studies now to prove from an evidence-based standpoint that it’s actually the tape that’s doing it and not something else. I’m really curious to see what the studies will show.” Via Crazy Tape On Olympians: Does it Work?