With Rio 2016 just millimetres around the corner, a lot of big questions are being asked. One which isn’t being discussed to such a degree though is what the fuck is all that tape athletes drape themselves in?
Looking like something out of a Terry Gilliam film, Olympians coat themselves in the weird looking tape making them appear like bizarre ancient demi-gods. But what does it actually do?
Well, according to Wonderful Engineering, the weird and wonderful tape is called ‘kinesiology tape or the Kinesio tape’, which claims to alleviate discomfort in muscles and bones by lifting the skin’.
Apparently, there are a lot of brands out there selling the magic stuff, however, the port of call for most athletes is Kinesio Tex Tape – with the U.S. team branding it their official tape.
According to their website, the Japanese brand claim to:
Alleviate discomfort and facilitate lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin. [The Kinesio Tape can be] applied over muscles to reduce pain and inflammation, relax overused or tired muscles, and support muscles in movement on a 24-hour-a-day basis.
However, funnily enough, there is pretty much no scientific evidence that any of these claims are actually true, leading some psychologists to claim that the tape is merely a placebo.
Think about it – if you’re a top athlete who’s a little anxious going into a race and you apply some bizarre tape to yourself which is supposed to be a real boost to what you’re capable of, chances are you’re going to feel a hell of a lot better psychologically.
Human and Applied Physiology Professor Steve Harridge expands on this, adding:
The fact that athletes think it’s going to do them some good can help in a psychological way.
At the end of the day, a little psychological boost could be the difference between a gold medal or a silver one. Every little helps.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.