The brightly colored tape is being seen on endurance athletes everywhere, but what does it do?
That colorful tape you see on beach volleyball players and increasingly on endurance athletes is more than just a fun shade of athletic tape. “It’s a lot different than regular athletic tape,” said Dr. Victoria VanNederynen, a Boston-based chiropractor certified in the Kinesio Taping Method.
The brightly-colored kinesiology tape is made up of cotton fibers with polymer elastic strands woven throughout. Whereas traditional athletic tape restricts blood flow and movement, kinesiology tape is pliable and allows for a full range of motion. “It feels like it’s not even there,” said VanNederynen.
First developed in the 1970s by Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kase, kinesiology tape came to prominence after the 2008 Olympics, and several companies have developed products from Kase’s Kinesio Tex Tape since.
Although it can be applied in a variety of patterns, the tape predominantly works in a few key ways. Kinesiology tape offers structural or muscle support; it can correct postural problems and increase blood flow and lymphatic drainage.
When the tape is applied correctly, it achieves the last of these effects by lifting the skin to create a small space between the muscle and dermis layers. That space takes the pressure off swelling or injured muscles and allows smooth muscle movement and makes space for drainage and blood flow.