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What's That Colorful Tape Elite Athletes Are Wearing? And How Does It Work?

POSTED BY: Florida Hospital

If you watched the games, chances are you’re curious about the blue or hot pink strips of tape the athletes were wearing. Everyone from rugby players to volleyball players. Looks cool, no doubt, but what exactly is it?

It’s an elastic, therapeutic tape that helps support muscle movement, minimize pain and inflammation and relax tired muscles that are suffering from overuse. The idea is that if you put the stretchy cotton tape in the right area, it will pull at your skin when you start to overextend your arm, reminding you not to. The tape stays put for three or four days and is waterproof.

“You can use taping to decrease swelling when you have an injured joint, to help support a sore muscle,” says Sheila Klausner, a physical therapist at Florida Hospital who also worked with athletes for USA Swimming Sports Medicine Network and the national team during the 2000 Sydney and the 2004 Athens games.

"This type of taping is popular in the public eye because of the sporting events, but there are so many applications for all individuals whether they are athletes or not. I see it helping my patients every day.”

“The whole principal is that it’s touching your skin, which sends a message to your brain,” she explains. “By using the tape, I can stimulate a muscle or I can calm a muscle down.” Klasner has been a certified taping practitioner since 2012.

It can be used to treat existing injuries, but it can also be used to help prevent future injuries. Say, for example, a tennis athlete has a shoulder joint that feels unstable, you could use this type of tape to help facilitate muscle function to assist in stabilizing the joint.