If you’re a fan of sports, any sports, then you have most likely heard or seen brightly colored tape called kinesiology tape, also known as Kinesio tape, or K Tape.  K Tape is an elastic cotton strip with a medical grade acrylic adhesive designed for treating pain and a variety of other physical disorders.

Kinesio tape was developed back in 1970, but has gained popularity with various Olympians wearing the tape in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London summer Olympics.  The tape is a thin, elastic cotton that stretches up to 140% or its original length, thus, when applied to the affected area, the tape will stretch back, pulling the skin and muscle with it, giving the affected area more range of motion.  The tape is able to be worn for much longer periods of time than traditional athletic tape. It’s meant to mimic human skin, and the acrylic adhesive is heat activated. By wearing the tape, you can increase blood flow to applied areas, healing the muscles and making the are more mobile.  It also helps with lymphatic drainage by decreasing inflammation and reducing pressure.

What was once reserved for Olympians is now available for everyone, no matter what the level of athleticism.  There are hundreds of different types of tapes, for different types of sports and activities. Athletes wear the tape instead of taking Ibuprofen for pain, claiming that it simply works better on pain.  Even James Harden of the Houston Rockets wears his K Tape, even when he’s not injured.

“Whenever I’m sore, whether it’s my knee or my shoulder, putting the KT tape on gets the blood flowing and circulating around my body,” Harden told NBC. “I’m able to go out there and play free, not really thinking about injuries.”

The acrylic adhesive is perfect for applying to the skin, as it’s hypoallergenic, and the tape can be worn in and out of the shower, making reapplication of the tape every three to five days.  

Plastic is once again making a name for itself in the medical community.