Oooh, fancy magic tape for athletes

This is old stuff but people still think it actually works.

Did Magic Tape Help Li Na Win The Australian Open? – Forbes.

When Chinese tennis star Li Na won the Australian open final this weekend, she had two long, wide strips of black tape criss-crossing her right knee. And in the semifinals, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska had two similar pieces of tape criss-crossed over her right shoulder. Sports fans have been seeing this sight for a few years now: we saw these big pieces of tape slathered across the legs of many Olympic swimmers in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Why is it so popular? After all, with so many world-class athletes using it, it must help somehow, right? Nope. Athetic tape has become hugely popular thanks to clever marketing: during the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, tape manufacturer KT tape donated its “kinesio tape” to 58 countries for their athletes to use. Many athletes gave it a try, and millions of viewers saw it on television.

Fortunately, this claim is pretty easy to study, and multiple studies were done after the 2008 Olympics, looking at the possible benefits of athletic tape. A review of ten scientific studies published in the journal Sports Medicine in 2012 found little benefit. They reported that “The efficacy of KT [kinesio tape] in pain relief was trivial given there were no clinically important results.”

There are a remarkable number of studies looking at various kinds of taping for joint or muscle problems, but the evidence is, on the whole, weak at best.

KT is elastic, while other tape techniques are not. Any type of tape may be beneficial as support but nothing has shown that KT is anything special.

We’ve done stories on Kinesio tape before.

“Evidence” for Kinesio tape doesn’t stick | Doubtful News.

Kinesio – The colored sports tape without backing | Doubtful News.

The stuff has been in use for 30 years and all that still comes up are anecdotes? This sounds a lot like silly Power Balance nonsense. People THINK it helps them but it does not that can be physcially measured.

Photo credit: Marianne Bevis

Photo credit: Marianne Bevis

  11 comments for “Oooh, fancy magic tape for athletes

  1. January 27, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    What will they think of next…that’s crap, doesn’t do anything yet people will shell out big bucks for. I would get in on that racket except I have morals.

    • January 27, 2014 at 6:07 PM

      Maybe something as simple as a rumor that ‘Big Pharma’ is behind it all would take the wind from the sails of things like this?

      • January 27, 2014 at 7:52 PM

        Nope. Big woo.

  2. January 27, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    I just use common or garden duct tape, to prevent body parts dropping off.

  3. cplamb
    January 27, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    It looks like the markings used for motion tracking.

  4. January 27, 2014 at 7:50 PM

    Just put it in the category of copper bracelets and magnetic shoe inserts. The only thing they help is the seller’s pocket book.

  5. skeptictmac57
    January 27, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    There is one plausible element that might actually help a player gain an advantage. The tape might distract their opponent by drawing their attention to it and make them lose focus at key times in the game.

    • KR
      January 31, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      Indeed. In the latest Olympics there was this woman, some jumper or pole vaulter, she had her thigh and a buttock taped over with so much blue tape that it looked more like a graphics bug where skin didn’t render properly on top of the polygons.
      While not that much of an advantage in jump or pole vault or whatever her sport was, it sure looked very distracting.

  6. John
    January 27, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    It’s got nothing to do with performance or pain relief. It’s all about fashion.

  7. Phil
    January 28, 2014 at 12:57 AM

    If you want anecdotal evidence, I tried that stuff when I got plantar fasciitis. Didn’t work. I had to use heavy tape and stop running for about 16 months.

  8. eddi
    January 28, 2014 at 7:26 AM

    Athletes are a most superstitious bunch. About as bad as performers. Lucky charms, rituals and generally odd shenanigans fill the locker room and backstage. Never call the Scottish Play by it’s proper name.

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