Monday, August 6, 2012

Olympic athletes and increased use of kinesiology tapes


The whole World is watching - Olympic Games with motto – ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’, which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger".  From Olympia, when the athletes competed in individual capacity, and getting crowned with Olive leaves to the modern day, things have come a very long way.

Now it is tough to get representation of passing through minimum qualification levels or restricted no. of entries, the game has got tougher, the adulation is more.  The emotion associated with these games is unique. Once every four years these numerous athletes come and participate to realise their dream of a medal, to find a platform to make good a lifetime of hard work, persistence and sacrifice.  One cannot succeed without excellence and perfection of the highest order.  The participants gnaw tenaciously exhibiting not only their skills but also their resilience, tenacity, grit, endurance more than the performance itself.  Olympics is all about the  focus and hard work of the worlds’ best athletes who strain every sinew to ensure that they are above the competitors.

Besides months of intense training and practice, the competitors tend to rely on everything which they feel would secure them a medal – and some could be mere belief without any scientific evidence that it works.  This post is about the bizarre tape that  many athletes adorn believing that they would bring them magic charm !! 

To cite some example, German beach volleyball player Ilka Semmler wears it on her buttocks - in pink.  Swedish handball player Johanna Wiberg prefers it in blue from her knee to her groin. British sprinter Dwain Chambers has even worn it with a Union Jack design.  They are the Athletic tape made in every colour under the sun seems to be the latest must-have sports injury treatment at London 2012.  Called Kinesio tape and developed by a Japanese doctor more than 30 years ago, the adhesive strapping is designed to provide muscle and joint support without restricting movement.  According to Kinesio's product website, it is also designed to be used with a particular taping technique - a skill practitioners need to learn on a special training course.

A report states that more than 4,000 people in Britain are now trained in the art of Kinesio taping,  and many of them look after some of the country's top sportsmen and women, though there is not much of research to prove its ability to relieve pain or improve muscle strength is limited.  There are not voices of criticism though ! as people are not convinced of the underlying mechanism of supposed 'lifting' effect and the ability of tape applied to the skin to enhance the performance of muscles deep inside the body.  Perhaps it is an effective ‘placebo’ which plays on the minds of the athletes wearing them.  

Elastic therapeutic tape, commonly referred to as "k tape" or kinesiology tape, is an elastic cotton strip with an acrylic adhesive that is used for treating athletic injuries and a variety of physical disorders. For the first decade after its introduction, orthopedists, chiropractors, acupuncturists and other medical practitioners in Japan were the main users of the theraputic tape. During the second decade after its introduction the tape was adopted by Japanese Olympic and professional athletes.

The popularity of elastic therapeutic sport tape in the United States surged after 50,000 rolls were donated and the tape was seen on Olympic athletes in the 2008 Beijing Summer Games. Of these athletes, the most notable was Kerri Walsh who used the tape in competition following surgery on her rotator cuff. Lance Armstrong, 7 times winner of the Tour de France, talks about using tape in his book, where he describes the effectiveness of the treatment for his sore muscles.  There are now several main manufacturers of the product
UK Dwayne Chambers

The product literature claims that Kinesio Taping gives support and stability to your joints and muscles without affecting circulation and range of motion. It is also used for Preventive Maintenance, Edema, and to treat pain.  It adds that Kinesio Taping is a technique based on the body's own natural healing process. This Kinesio Taping exhibits its efficacy through the activation of neurological and circulatory systems.  The Kinesio Taping Method is applied over muscles to reduce pain and inflammation, relax overused tired muscles, and to support muscles in movement on a 24hr/day basis. It is non-restrictive type of taping which allows for full range of motion.  Kinesio Tape is used for anything from headaches to foot problems and everything in between.

As the saying goes ‘Success has many fathers’ and in search of success people tend to get wooed to every thing that could provide some extra chance.  So whether you believe in its scientific efficacy or not, there are host of athletes who have tape made in every color under the sun  and their adherence sure would increase the following among common people !!  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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