Olympic Fashion Statement: What's up with the colored tape?

What is Kinesiology Tape?

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Bright-colored strips of tape in odd patterns are increasingly being seen in the Olympics, most noticeably in beach volleyball. Kinesiology tape can help take pressure off overused muscles, reduce swelling and alleviate pain from injuries. Kinesiology taping, developed in the 1970s by Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kase, came to the U.S. in the mid-1990s.

Kinesiology tape is a thin, stretchy, therapeutic tape that can benefit a wide variety of injuries and inflammatory conditions. It is almost identical to human skin in both thickness and elasticity, which allows it to be worn without binding, constricting or restriction of movement. Kinesiology Tape is made of 100% high-grade cotton so it is comfortable and breathable. The 140% elasticity mimics the flexibility of human skin and muscles. The adhesive is heat-activated, light, mild and hypo-allergenic, causing less skin sensitivity or irritability than other tapes.

Why use Kinesiology Tape?

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Traditional athletic tape is wrapped tightly around an injured area to provide rigid support and restrict movement. It must be removed immediately after activity to restore movement and circulation. Kinesiology tape, on the other hand, is thin and flexible, allowing it to provide dynamic support while still allowing a safe and functional range of motion. Rather than being wrapped completely around an injured area, kinesiology tape is applied directly over or around the periphery of the area. Most applications can be worn 4-5 days, even during intense exercise, showering, bathing or swimming.  Therapeutic benefits accumulate 24/7 for the entire time the tape is worn.

Kinesiology tape can be used to pull back a shoulder that is hunching forward or to reduce swelling in a joint, tape can be used to pull up the skin and create an area of low pressure where fluid can move and drain. Some clinicians believe the tape provides stimulation to skin cells that affects pain pathways—similar to rubbing a spot that hurts. Just a few examples include rehabilitation from sports injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back strain/pain (subluxation, herniated disc), knee and shoulder conditions.  Kinesiology Tape is growing as a non-drug means to treat joint inflammation and muscle pain using strips of colored tape.

Who can benefit from using Kinesiology Tape?

Kinesiology Tape can be used to help anyone. You don’t have to be a professional athlete or have a sports-related injury. It is designed to decrease healing time, decrease swelling and bruising, provide multiple day support, reduce in skin sensitivity, decrease joint pain, and improve posture. These benefits can help anyone injured in physical activities, car accidents, or have chronic inflammatory conditions. Dr. Chris Kelley has been trained to administer the application of Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape and has seen tremendous results with its application.

Can anyone administer the tape?

Essentially anyone can buy the tape and try putting it on themselves. However, this isn’t tape that can be slapped on randomly. It requires proper tension and should be applied in a specific pattern. It is placed in a way to follow the muscles and support the joints. So without knowing how to put it on, you will not be able to utilize the benefits of the tape.

What Conditions can Kinesiology Taping be Used For?

Joint Pain

Arthritis, bursitis, lupus, degenerative joints, poorly aligned joints, joint instability

Muscle Pain

Torn muscles, pulled/strained muscles, tight muscles, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, muscle cramps, calf strain, pulled hamstring, groin strain, strained gluteals, abdominal strain

Soft Tissue Injuries

Tendinitis, tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), golfers elbow (medial epicondylitis), patellar tendinitis, Achilles tendinitis, whiplash, back strain, neck strain, rotator cuff injuries, iliotibial band syndrome (ITB)

Joint Injuries

Joint sprains, dislocated joints, sprained ankle, sprained knee, sprained wrist, sprained elbow, degenerated meniscus, torn cartilage, unstable joints, joint hypermobility

Overuse Injuries

Carpal tunnel, repetitive stress syndrome, shin splints, Iliotibial Band Syndrome, tension headaches

Swelling and Edema

Lymphedema, swollen joints, edema, lymphatic congestion, chronic joint or muscle inflammation

Postural Problems

Poor posture, round shoulders, scapular instability, muscle weakness, muscle imbalance, poor muscle tone, hypotonia

Recovery from Surgery

Athletic injury surgery, reconstructive surgery, joint replacement surgery, meniscus repair, ligament surgery, tendon surgery, lymph node removal


Bruising following injuries or surgery, contusions

Foot Pain

Plantar fasciitis, fallen arches

Christopher Kelley