Why Are Female Olympic Beach Volleyball Players Wearing That Colorful Kinesiology Tape?
If you aren’t interested in understanding the ripple of how far this story on kinesiology tape rolls out, with or without the colorful tape that frames Kerri Walsh Jennings’ shoulder, along with April Rose, Jennings has the potential to take home a medal in beach volleyball at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Much like the cupping marks that could be seen on Michael Phelps, kinesiology tape allows for a nice story. And the reality is, we have no idea whether or not Phelps feels cupping was beneficial to his ability to perform beyond what he was already capable of.
Michael Phelps is, after all, the most decorated gold medalist in the history of the Olympic games. And if Kerri Walsh Jennings was to win a gold medal this time around, she would go down as one of the only women to win a gold medal four consecutive times in a team sport.
Along the same lines as the story on cupping and kinesiology tape, we also don’t know what’s actually in the Gatorade bottle or paper cup that professional athletes are seen drinking from during a game.
Since professional athletes are more aware of how important nutrition is to performance, many are more than likely not putting what’s being advertised into their body. For all we know, it could be anything but Gatorade. And we can only hope that it is!
When it comes to improving performance, KT Tape is nothing more than a brand of colorful kinesiology tape that just so happens to be outlining Kerri Walsh Jennings’ deltoid muscle.
It was a story in the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, and according to all of the research that’s been done on kinesiology tape since then, the claims that are being made about the therapeutic value of the tape is still suspect to this day.
From the outside looking in, the only difference between the kinesiology tape that Kerri Walsh Jennings was wearing in 2008, and the tape that is outlining her deltoid in the Rio Olympics is the letters, USA. Letters that are so big, they take up the majority of the width of the tape that is front and center throughout her shoulder.
There are many brands of kinesiology tape. And not all of them will provide you with the best stick. In fact, it’s not uncommon to have the brand of kinesiology tape that Kerri Walsh Jennings endorses partially peeling off within minutes of it being applied.
And that’s not due to inexperience in applying the tape. It’s just the nature of what you’re getting when you purchase the less expensive version of that brand of kinesiology tape.
When there’s a lot on the line, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for a person that’s considered to be a professional to reach for a Band-aid when they could be spending your time getting to the source.
A couple of weekends ago, I worked with two elite female soccer players that were in town to represent their team that was based out of California. They were staying in Dallas, and playing in the soccer championships that were held at Toyota Stadium.
After a rain delay that lasted more than an hour, and without any time dedicated to warming up, within a few minutes of returning to the field one of the young ladies felt what she described as a ‘pull’ in her hamstrings (i.e., a group of 3 muscles that start on your pelvis, and go down the back of your thigh to eventually attach to different areas of your leg. There’s also a shorter hamstring muscle that goes directly from your femur to your leg. All of your hamstring muscles cross your knee.)
Like her friend and teammate that came in right before her, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to play the next day.
With both ends of the kinesiology tape peeling away from the skin on the back of her thigh, and with the remainder of the strip barely hanging in there, in a tone of voice that didn’t sound like she had much faith in the KT Tape, she asked if I wanted her to take it off.
Clearly concerned about whether or not she’d be able to take the field the next morning, once she got settled on my treatment table, she told me that she was already set to go to college on a 4-year scholarship at a Division l school. Then, she went on to emphasize the importance of the moment: “Tomorrow’s game is what we play for! And if we win tomorrow, we’ll play in the championship game the next day.”
Both of those young ladies ended up playing all of their minutes. And they won their semifinal game.
If you’ve ever had an injury, and you had to perform at a high level the next day, I’m sure you can see that it was not likely to happen with ice, stretching, and the kinesiology tape that was barely sticking to the back of her thigh.
And I didn’t even work on her hamstrings! 😀
[ Sidebar: Kerry Walsh Jennings is more than likely wearing the Pro version of KT Tape, which is a few dollars more than the KT Tape Cotton that in my experience, isn’t anywhere near as sticky as it could (and should!) be.
Said another way, if you’re shopping on foot for the KT Tape that Jennings is wearing, you’re more than likely not going to find it outside of a professional’s office. So your best bet is to get the professional version online. ]
There are so many sides to every story.
As you might have already imagined, all of the different brands have their theories (read: stories) on how their version of kinesiology tape should be applied.
[ Sidebar: I have no affiliation with any brand of kinesiology tape. That said, 6 years ago, I explored the use of various brands, and I found RockTape to provide a very nice stick. And when applied correctly, I found it to hold on for up to 5-7 days.
Since my brief time of exploring, I have not seen any reason to use kinesiology tape. If for some reason I decide to use it, I feel it would be unethical to charge for something that has been shown to be a more about the placebo effect than anything else.
If you’re interested in exploring more that there is to know about the placebo effect, you’ll want to read, Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain’s Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal (affiliate). ]
In a 2015 New York Times article by @GretchenReynolds, “On the other hand, kinesiology tape may have a robust placebo effect. In an interesting experiment published in February, blindfolded volunteers were told that they had kinesiology tape on their legs during weight training exercises when, in some sessions, the tape was merely a sticky fabric. The blindfolded volunteers performed the same during the exercises, whether or not they were wearing real tape, suggesting, according to the study’s authors, that when benefits do occur with the use of the tape, they should “be attributed to the placebo effect.”
In the same article, Jim Thornton, the president of the National Athletic Trainers Association was quoted as saying, “We call that taping your head…”
One brand built its followers by focusing on fascia. They have since moved away from that methodology, and are now onto building upon another story. A story that has little to do with what kinesiology tape has to offer in the way of improving movement.
When applied properly, this brand of kinesiology tape will provide you with the best stick and doesn’t shy away from using the word, medical throughout their site.
In sticking with the story that is kinesiology tape, it’s not uncommon to see a chiropractor, physical therapist, athletic trainer, and other professionals telling that brands story to anybody that will listen. They even have a page dedicated to research that wouldn’t hold up any better than a chiropractic adjustment.
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard Feynman
You could say that kinesiology tape is providing you with just as much maintenance as a chiropractic adjustment allows for.
According to this article on kinesiology tape, in Lance Armstrong’s book, Every Second Counts, Armstrong noted that his team used “a special hot-pink athletic tape that came from Japan and seemed to have magical powers.”
Armstrong also added this: “Sometimes we’d be so wrapped up in hot-pink tape that we’d look like dolls, a bunch of broken dolls But the tape worked, so we kept it, because it could fix things.”
If you’re not familiar with the history of fascia, it’s become a buzzword that even its biggest supporter, Thomas Myers has taken a small step back from. Choosing his words wisely on his own website, Myers wrote, “I am so over the word ‘fascia’. I have touted it for 40 years – I was even called the ‘Father of Fascia’ the other day in New York (it was meant kindly, but…) — now that ‘fascia’ has become a buzzword and is being used for everything and anything, I am pulling back from it in top-speed reverse.”
But yet, Myers begins the next sentence with three words that allow him to hang on to the same worldview (and tribe!) when he says, “ fascia is important…”
By hanging on to the tales that have been told about fascia, well-meaning licensed massage therapists, and many other professionals will continue to keep fascia in their minds and hearts.
Regardless of what Thomas Myers thinks, sooner than later, it’s worth exploring just how important fascia really is.
In @jennfields recent article on kinesiology tape in The Denver Post, a physical therapist that regularly applies the tape to her patients is quoted as saying, “…she has used it with her general population of patients for posture reeducation. “I put the patient in proper posture, and I apply the tape with about 35-50 percent tension,” she said. If the patient slumps into poor posture, she said, “it pulls on the skin enough that it’s uncomfortable.”
At first glance, that sounds pretty convincing. But the reality is, without applying a Band-Aid, I could improve a muscle’s ability to overcome gravity in one session.
Was I able to address every muscle that’s under-performing in one session? No. But the results came in a much shorter period of time. And that individual is no longer relying on a colorful strip of tape that’s encouraging them to consciously compensate.
And more importantly, without ‘releasing’ a muscle or a ‘knot’, or even a ‘trigger point’, I got to the root cause.
Like I told a friend and colleague on my Facebook page: ‘If you can get to the source, why bother with a Band-Aid?’
By the end of the day, it’s not uncommon for many females to experience a tight tired feeling between their shoulder blades. Like she mentioned in The Denver Post article, a physical therapist can apply kinesiology tape, and then they can go on to tell their patients to focus on their posture throughout the day.
And at the end of every day, their patients are still going to experience that annoying sensation throughout their upper back.
“In a world full of free answers, a good question becomes more valuable.”
– Kevin Kelly
If you’re experiencing a tight tired feeling between your shoulder blades at the end of the day, gravity is winning and your muscles are losing.
There’s a tug of war going on back there, and the experts are focusing on the winner. 🙄
There are many things the experts don’t seem to want to tell you. One of the things they aren’t telling you is that by attempting to ‘release’ fascia or a muscle, or even to apply kinesiology tape to a chain that is already not capable of overcoming gravity efficiently, they’re not doing anything beyond addressing the symptom.
You don’t have to have an advanced degree in physics to see that by releasing or relaxing a muscle, that muscle is not going to be capable of overcoming gravity any better.
And that’s just one of the reasons why so many techniques and modalities are short-lived and/or take forever.
At what point will the experts start to ask a better question?
[ Sidebar: When a physical therapist and a chiropractor are free to bill your insurance for anything under the sun, without anybody to hold them accountable for results but themselves, where’s the motivation to do the work that will actually allow you to perform better than you did before you walked through the door for the first time? ]
All while ignoring the role of your muscular system.
In the same article, a physical therapist goes on to say, “kinesio tape is especially popular among her runners. “Knee pain,” she said. “I’ve used it a lot for plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis.”
Rather than point out that she’s chasing the pain, or that the word popular was used to validate reaching for kinesiology tape on actual conditions that keep people from performing to their fullest potential, I’ll focus on another buzzword that’s often mentioned along with all of those conditions that she mentioned – over-pronation.
Because #plantarfasciitis is less about a foot that’s over-pronating, and more about the muscles inability to supinate from the top-down.
— Rick Merriam (@rickmerriam) August 12, 2016
Said another way, plantar fasciitis is less about muscles that are responsible for not allowing the foot to hold itself up or support itself and more about the muscles inability to overcome gravity at the right time.
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A BIG thanks in advance. 🙂
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— Rick Merriam (@rickmerriam) August 15, 2016
Latest posts by Rick Merriam (see all)
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- Understanding Pronation and Supination (and How That Relates to Overcoming Plantar Fasciitis) - May 22, 2017