Home / Tech / Science / Here’s because Olympic athletes are wearing bizarre fasten that looks like a tattoo — and what we know about how it works

Here’s because Olympic athletes are wearing bizarre fasten that looks like a tattoo — and what we know about how it works

Can fasten yield a opening boost?

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  • Athletes like Mirai Nagasu and Ted Ligety have been speckled at the Winter Olympics wearing streaks of tape.
  • Nagasu had it on her leg, which confused viewers who suspicion it competence be some kind of tattoo.
  • But these athletes are actually wearing kinesio fasten supposing to Team USA by KT Tape.
  • It’s not transparent formed on systematic investigate either the fasten actually helps. But there competence be good reasons for athletes to wear it anyway.

US figure skater Mirai Nagasu dumbfounded Winter Olympics figure skating watchers over the weekend with her considerable opening — she was the first American lady to ever land a triple axel at the Olympics.

But the other partial of her opening that stuck with viewers was the dim strain on her thigh with the letters “USA” on it. There was at first some conjecture that it competence be a tattoo of some kind, but it was shortly suggested that it was actually Team USA-branded jaunty kinesiology fasten done by KT Tape.

In this year’s Winter Games, some alpine skiers have also been wearing the fasten on their faces to strengthen themselves from the frozen air. KT Tape is capitalizing on the moment by charity discounts on the “mystery tattoo” tape.

The KT Tape company web site says the fasten is “designed to soothe pain while ancillary muscles, tendons, and ligaments.”

But the scholarship on either Kinesio fasten actually works isn’t clear. Wearing it may be profitable for Olympic athletes — but not indispensably for the reason the competitors select to put it on.

Hopefully Ted Ligety doesn’t have too tough a time stealing fasten from his face.

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Taping together an Olympic opening

Kinesiology tape, which is mostly brightly colored, has done a dash at the Olympics and in other sporting events before. It started to draw viewers’ courtesy at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Games, where it was mostly utterly manifest on the unprotected skin of beach volleyball players.

Recently, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady showed up for the AFC Championship Game wearing KT Tape. He was using it strengthen stitches he’d perceived to provide a indenture in his right hand.

The KT Tape website claims the product “helps revoke vigour to the hankie and may revoke annoy or pain. Correct taping also provides support to muscles by improving the muscle’s ability to contract, even when it is weak, and helps the flesh to not over-extend or over-contract.”

Kinesio Tex Tape, which is what athletes were first speckled wearing in 2008, was designed by a Japanese chiropractor in 1979. Kinesio’s website says their fasten “alleviates annoy and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin.” They contend that it can be “applied over muscles to revoke pain and inflammation, relax stale or sleepy muscles, and support muscles in transformation on a 24-hour-a-day basis.”

Whether or not the fasten actually does these things is reduction clear. And athletes seem to be wearing it for a accumulation of reasons that go over the selling — face-warming positively isn’t one of the endorsed uses.

Most of us first beheld the fasten on beach volleyball players.

REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

To fasten or not to fasten

Several reviews of studies have analyzed the clinical use of kinesio taping for people with musculoskeletal conditions, and found no justification it helped patients. So people with ongoing conditions that need diagnosis (not customarily Olympic athletes) substantially won’t see any advantage from using the tape.

Some researchers have found that taping can have intensity advantages for people with reduce back pain, but reviews haven’t found any clever poignant altogether benefit.

At slightest one examination in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that “Kinesio taping is higher to minimal involvement for pain relief.” Other studies have found that the taping may potentially boost operation of suit slightly, but there’s not indispensably justification that one form of fasten is better than another. Researchers who have looked to see if fasten improves blood upsurge have pronounced that they found no justification of that effect.

Overall, it seems that if there’s any benefit, it’s not vast or easy to measure.

Yet there are many athletes who have have incited to tape. In further to Olympians and NFL players, Lance Armstrong and David Beckham used the glue during their careers.

Even if the fasten doesn’t do much from a earthy perspective, there may be a good reason for the athletes who use it to keep doing so.

Competitions are won or lost by fractions of a second, so even some very slight pain service or boost in operation of suit matters to an Olympic athlete. A .05% opening benefit could be the disproportion between station on the lectern or sitting off to the side.

If there’s no opening boost whatsoever from the tape, it could still be worth wearing if an contestant thinks it helps them. Study after study has documented the advantages of the remedy effect. People who consider they’ve been given caffeine or hypnotic feel reduction tired or pain, even if all they’ve ingested is a sugar pill.

As physiology highbrow Steve Harridge told Reuters in 2012, “the fact that athletes consider it’s going to do them some good can help in a psychological way.”

Athletes tend to adhere to anything that competence give them a opening boost. If fasten creates someone feel there’s reduction reason to worry about a parsimonious hamstring or bruise back, the decrease that comes with that state of mind may make the disproportion between a winning opening and one that falls short.

That alone could be good adequate reason to do it.

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