In this article we will present 3 possibly surprising reasons why athletes wear tape.
Many sports fans watching high profile athletic events on television have become used to the sight of the athletes wearing various types and colours of athletic tape. In sports such as beach volleyball, wearing tape has become more or less standard practice.
It is our hope that you will find the information presented both illuminating and interesting.
Why Athletes Wear Kinesiology Tape
Kinesiology tape (or k tape) is probably the most popular type of tape worn by athletes in all sports. There is a high likelihood that if you see an athlete wearing an extremely colorful tape, that tape is Kinesiology tape.
K tape was introduced in the 1970s by Dr. Kenzo Kase and his brand is still marketed today under the name Kinesio tape.
K tape is generally popular among athletes because it will help heal soft tissue and other injuries. It can also keep muscles fresh and oxygenated. Furthermore, its use will not restrict muscle movement. Instead, it actually relies on the normal movement of muscles and joints to perform its healing function.
It does this by lifting the skin over the area of an injury to increase blood flow in that area. The increased blood flow will result in greater oxygen supply and thus faster healing. The result of accelerated healing will be reduced inflammation and swelling. It also helps relieve pain.
K tape also helps with lymphatic drainage, i.e. the removal of waste products such as lactic acid from tired muscles. This helps keep the muscles fresh for longer periods, which results in better athletic performance.
Because k tape does not restrict movement, it is a popular choice when an athlete is managing a mild injury or trying to prevent one while continuing activity.
Kinesiology tape is also felt by some athletes to increase their proprioceptive ability. This refers to the ability of the body to sense unusual or unnatural positions and to instinctively correct them, thus reducing the risk of injury.
More information about the functioning of k tape and its importance in sports medicine can be found here.
Why Athletes Wear Adhesive Athletic Tape
Another reason why athletes wear tape is to control the range of motion of injured joints. By doing so, they hope to allow injured tissues (muscles, ligaments or tendons) to rest and heal naturally.
It should also be noted that there are many varieties of adhesive take with varying degrees of restrictiveness. Light elastic adhesive tapes, for example, will provide less support than a strapping tape but will also allow more movement.
Furthermore, because this use of tape is intended to limit motion, it is used for different purposes. For example, k tape may be used to treat an acute injury in its initial stages and ease swelling, bruising and pain. Once this has been accomplished, a traditional adhesive tape (such as a zinc oxide based tape) may be used to stabilize injured tissues during rehabilitation.
The Placebo Effect
This may be another important reason why athletes wear tape. It cannot be discounted that many athletes have great confidence in the healing properties of k tape and that this may have a beneficial effect on the athlete’s health and performance. For many athletes, the ability to perform with less concern about the risk of injury can itself improve performance.
We have presented three important reasons why athletes wear tape. It is our hope that this information will be useful the next time you see olympic athletes wearing highly colorful tapes while performing.