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October 30, 2022

It's about drive; it's about power, we stay hungry. Okay, so quoting a song about determination while regarding athletic tape might seem a little on the nose, it does address the general idea and answers the general question as to why athletes wear athletic tape. The answer is found within the message of the song. Athletes train despite the pain caused by injuries. The athletic tape helps heal injuries faster, and the proper application of tape promotes proper locomotion resulting in improved technique.

Athletic tape rolls and k-tape are all the same name for a tool popularized during the 2012 Olympics. The athletes claimed that it helped their performance, and an excited audience learned about how even amateurs and enthusiasts can also use the tape. While it had been around since 1970, it became part of the health-fitness craze soon after the Olympics were done. A popular tool in the chiropractic chest, they use it as part of rehabilitation therapy.

Soon after, gymnasiums, martial arts dojos, and courts of all types were filled with practitioners wearing neon tape across their bodies. The tape was an innovation compared to the medical tape of its time.

Not only was it more flexible and allow for training during injury, but the tape was also designed for simple placement, not layer upon layer of tape to immobilize a joint or artery. Athletic tape can also be used for prevention; if a person applies the tape as soon as any discomfort is felt, the k-tape can help prevent further damage to the area.

There is also the psychological impact of a user wearing the tape to boost this confidence as he performs and pushes himself to the limit. There is a lot to be said and attributed to the idea of performing at high levels with a security net. While injury can still occur since accidents can happen, the use of the tape can help a person relax and achieve more significant results thanks to the more relaxed state of mind.

Why Do Athletes Wear Athletic Tape? What Is Athletic Tape

The modern colorful athletic tape or k-tape was created in 1970 by Dr. Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor. Dr. Kase was frustrated by a patient who insisted on training for an upcoming event despite having an injury that could worsen. Medical tape at the time was thick cotton wraps that were applied with the express intention of immobilizing a person's injury and forcing them to rest and recover. This would make further training very difficult and often result in an athlete being sidelined. 

Dr. Kase developed a new tape that would be flexible and elastic enough that it would allow athletes to still train. Dr. Kase's new tape was made up of fine, stretchable material, usually a combination of cotton and nylon. The design was intended to work like human skin. It would behave elastically and allow for the person to engage their full range of motion.

K-tape or  Kinesiology sports tape  would also include a powerful adhesive that would activate once warmed and could stay on a person despite constant sweat. The tape Medical grade adhesive is so water-resistant that it can stay on a person for up to five days. K-tape would also include an anti-inflammatory drug, DICLOFENAC, intended to help the athlete train by numbing the pain.

Athletes would wear this tape with the express intention of helping with training and ignoring the pain. While this train of thought might seem like something out of an action film where a protagonist awakens from a coma and starts wearing k-tape and beating up dummies. The tape's intention was precisely that; the people wearing these were high-intensity and Olympic-level athletes who regularly spent 8-hour days grinding away at their discipline. So the diclofenac would help.

Depending on the brand, the medicine found applied to the cotton blend can vary, so when purchasing a new tape, pay attention to what it contains. The tape can also be found with no medication, and users can apply their preferred form of menthol or linament to help ease their discomfort.

It is essential to note the tape was created to control bleeding or be placed on an open wound, and the application of which can lead to worsening the condition when removing the tape from the body and inadvertently pulling on the wound, causing it to either reopen or making the wound worse. 

The tape became famous after several athletes wore them during the 2012 Olympics held in London, England. As athletes participated in their events, the colorful tape was showcased as one of the tools used to help maintain the athletes in tip-top condition. In contrast, they participated in the elite world competition. 

History of Kinesiology Sports Tape

  • Created in 1970 by Dr. Kenzo Kase
  • Designed with the intention to be a secondary option to the medical tape 
  • The holistic technology was developed to help with overall health and help heal without the use of medication or surgery
  • Made famous when it was used in the 2012 London Olympics

Why Do Athletes Wear Athletic Tape? Sprains

Practicing a sport for an extended period and avoiding all injuries is impossible. Even chess players suffer migraines and mental fatigue. So as the sport becomes more demanding and training more intense, injury can be more straightforward. Sprains or twisting of ankles or knee injuries become some of the more prevalent injuries people can experience. 

Several videos are available online on how to appropriately dress injuries as long as they are not broken or bleeding. Once the injury is determined, a simple search will show the user how to address their injury. Once the shape of the tape is applied to the area, a simple rubbing of the elastic material will heat up the adhesive and allow it to stick to the skin.

Once on the skin, the tape begins addressing the injury. Sprains become supported, and injuries are held in place. The most common sprain at the ankle can be a simple misstep that can lead to a painful sensation. There are three degrees to a sprain, a first-degree sprain results in the most minimal tissue damage, and it heals quickly. A second-degree sprain results in ligaments being compromised due to the injury, and a third-degree sprain occurs where the ligament becomes torn.

While the third-degree sprain requires surgery, the two previous can be addressed by using Kinesiology tape. And while a doctor might insist on rest for the athlete as they recover from the injury, the use of tape and careful training can permit the person to continue their hobby or profession with little time away from their pinnacle performance. 

Why Do Athletes Wear Athletic Tape? How Does It Work

Sprains are treated by the use of tape; the main feature of it works by creating a space between the ligament and the muscle allowing blood to flow, and the additional oxygen allows it to heal faster. The wraps also work by applying pressure on the area and fighting off inflammation. The additional pressure exerted by the tape over the affected area does not allow fluids to build up, thus keeping down inflammation. It is not unusual for the tape to be combined with other methods in the R.I.C.E treatment to help heal faster.

Rest: simply put, the more time a person is off an injury, the less it will grow inflamed or swollen. It is essential for a person to take the time, even if they are training for a significant event, to allow the area to relax and heal.

Ice: the cold temperature applied to the skin will constrict the skin, fighting off swelling and allowing the area to heal. An ice pack or ice baths are a great way to help recovery.

Compression: The compression element is effectively covered by the use of tape. Once the tape is applied, it will constantly press against the body as it tries to inflame the area in an effort to protect it. The use of tape will help fight off this effect and allow blood to reach the injury and heal it faster.

Elevation: Lifting the affected limb over the head or the heart level will help bring down swelling by forcing the excess liquid to drain from the elevated area. Though awkward and time-consuming, elevating the limb or sprain does help keep swelling down. 

Why Do Athletes Wear  Athletic Tape? How to Remove K-Tape 

Kinesiology adhesive is notoriously strong and challenging to remove. The taped-up area should be washed with warm water; building a solid lather for the area will help release the adhesive grip once the area is soaked.

Once there is a slight release, start the removal of the tape by pulling in the direction of the way the hair grows on the body. If the stubborn tapes refuse to move, baby oil can be applied. Use the oil over the tape, allow it to soak up, and leave it on for approximately 30 minutes, then proceed to remove the tape slowly.