So THAT'S why Olympic stars are covered in sticky tape!
01:20 GMT, 4 September 2012
What is that brightly coloured tape some of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes have been sporting on their bodies
It might look like something an electrician would use, but it is, in fact, kinesiology tape — the latest must-have accessory designed to relieve injury.
It’s said to work by restoring normal muscle movement and draining debris from damaged tissue.
Kinesiology tape is super-elastic. The fabric applies tension to the skin and has the effect of lifting up the affected tissue and improving drainage of lymph fluid
Applied in a criss-cross pattern, it’s become quite usual to have an intricate mesh of black, orange, blue or green strips covering a damaged shoulder, arm or leg.
Just this week it was seen on the arm of Paralympics gold-medal winning discus thrower Aled Davies.
And it’s catching on with amateur weekend sports enthusiasts such as golfers and those enjoying Sunday five-a-side football.
The tape was developed in the Seventies by Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor, and gained widespread popularity.
It first appeared at the 2004 Athens Olympics. But it is only recently that its use has become widespread in Britain as sports therapists have learned how to use the sticky strips, attached to the skin with acrylic glue.
Kinesiology tape is super-elastic; sections are stretched to increase their original length by 50 per cent while being applied to the area of damage.
The fabric applies tension to the skin and has the effect of lifting up the affected tissue and improving drainage of lymph fluid (which provides nutrients to cells and removes their waste products).
This reduces pressure and, therefore, pain in a sore area. It also eases movement and improves blood circulation and muscle function.
Just this week kinesiology tape was seen on the arm of Paralympics gold-medal winning discus thrower Aled Davies
Research suggests that, used accurately, it can reduce pain and inflammation.
A study published in the journal Sports Biomechanics showed it could reduce the risk of people re-spraining previously damaged ankles.
Other studies have suggested its efficacy in areas such as rheumatism in the hands, and even as a way of improving sitting posture in children with cerebral palsy.
There are dozens of brands of kinesiology tape on the market and the cost is often included in a physiotherapy session.
‘The tape works by changing the sensory components of the muscle — the nerves that can affect perception of pain,’ says Caryl Becker, who led the team of 40 physiotherapists looking after Team GB this summer.
‘It also makes the muscle move more normally, so it functions properly, leading to a reduction in swelling and inflammation.
‘I have treated some people where it’s worked and others where it hasn’t.
‘It’s impossible to say why it works on some people and not others, but it may be down to the skill of the therapist applying it.’
One convert is mother-of-two Daniella Conway, 42, from Elstree, Hertfordshire.
She began daily gym sessions after the birth of her son Joshua, now ten. She also took up kick boxing, running and tennis several times a week.
But seven years ago, she suffered an excruciating tear to her knee ligament.
Then, two months ago, she jumped down an ornamental 12in wall in a park while chasing her dog, and was left in agony.
She feared her training days were over.
‘I couldn’t stand not being able to exercise,’ she says.
‘I am like any other mother who does it. Exercise is me time.
‘I had seen the tape on someone at my gym and they said it had worked. I thought it couldn’t make the pain any worse, so it was worth a try.’
She saw a physiotherapist who applied the tape and the effect was instant.
The pain diminished almost immediately, and she was aware of a strange pumping sensation in the swollen tissue below the tape.
‘Something was happening, but I couldn’t work out what it was. I was back exercising within a few days,’ she says.
At the moment, the tape is not widely used in the NHS.
However, Gaylene Branstiter, a specialised occupational therapist from St Thomas’ Hospital, London, says she has achieved excellent results in using the tape to reduce development of scar tissue just below the surface of the skin, which can limit the movement of patients recovering from hand injuries.
‘I have treated at least 50 people with great success, but it is still considered a slightly mysterious therapy — the research to prove it is still catching up,’ she says.
However, others still want to see more research to be convinced.
‘The idea of using rigid tape on injuries has been around for years. It lifts the skin and creates space for fluid drainage, and I’m big fan of it,’ said Sammy Margo spokeswoman for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists.
‘I do know physios who use the stretchy kinesiology tape, but I am still open-minded about whether or not it provides anything extra.’