Athletes around the world are taping up. The movement exploded during the 2012 London Olympics, when Serena Williams and David Beckham showed up to compete wearing various forms of biomechanical tape.
Ryan Kendrick, founder of Dynamic Tape and a musculoskeletal physiotherapist, says that taping reduces the pressure on tendons during athletic performance. It's used in rehab to reduce fatigue and speed up recovery, but also in healthy athletes to modify technique to give them an advantage in performance.
The elastic recoil of the tape works like a bungee cord, says Kendrick, absorbing the impact and taking pressure off the muscles. It can also change an athlete's movement patterns to reduce impact and improve biomechanics.
The tape, which took Kendrick years to develop, allows the wearer a full range of motion without limitation but with strong biomechanical assistance.
"Once clinicians understand the principles of Dynamic Tape and what it is capable of, they can integrate it into a variety of treatment approaches," says Kendrick. With an injury, "being able to modify the load can reduce pain early on and allow for quicker rehab and recovery."
For some athletes, the tape is applied in a way that mimics the action of an injured muscle or tendon. It is placed on the body with the muscle or joint in the shortened position and with stretch on the tape. As the muscle or joint lengthens, the tape is stretched further and absorbs the load. This reduces the work of the muscles.
Kendrick and his "Dream Team" helped English tennis star Greg Rusedski get back on track after he dropped from a Top 5 ranking into the 70s. With taping and work on biomechanics, Rusedski was able to beat players like Andre Agassi and return to the top of his game.
"A lot of what we did involved changing his biomechanics to reduce loading on his body and to improve his technique," says Kendrick. "We did a lot of work preparing the body to be able to handle the loads, and we managed his training schedule."
- Ankle Brace or Tape: Which Is Right for You?
- Ask the Experts: Should I Wear an Ankle Brace?
- Rehabbing With Kinesio Tape
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock