Wimbledon is one of the largest sporting events of the year with spectators watching all around the world. There will be no doubt that multiple people will have noticed the appearance of brightly coloured tape on a number of the athletes. So, what is the point of this tape? Is it just a fashion statement or could it be helping the athletes with their game?
The brightly coloured tape in question is called kinesiotape. It is a stretchy tape that is applied to the skin in the hope of stabilising the area in question, improving function and decreasing pain levels. As you can imagine this sounds perfect for athletes but how does it work? The following is taken from the website of Rocktape UK a premium brand of kinesiotape:
When RockTape is applied with little or no stretch on the tape but lots of stretch on the tissue it causes the skin to form convulsions and wrinkle. This creates a bio-mechanical lifting mechanism that decompresses the tissue just under the skin.
This decompression of the tissue is thought to stimulate nerve endings, which improves proprioception. Proprioception is the sense of position within our body. An increase in proprioception can both improve the way we move (as we can sense how much and how far we are moving) and also decrease pain levels.
So that is the theory but is there any evidence that it actually works or is it just heresay? More and more evidence is being provided for kinesiotape everyday but as far as Wimbledon concerned the following will be of interest:
- Application of kinesiotape can improve the range of motion of the lower back
- Application of kinesiotape is effective as decreasing the fatigue by maintaining strength in the forearm extensors, which are commonly associated with lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
This will allow the tennis players to remain more flexible and have less fatigue whilst playing a long match. This is ideal if a game is stretched to 5 sets.
Kinesiotaping is becoming more widely used in sport today and it can be seen not only at Wimbledon but in football, rugby, cycling, athletics, american football, and many others. In conclusion, it is likely that the tape is giving the athletes a slight edge to their game. This is probably part due to the proprioceptive effects and part due to the confidence boost it gives the athlete because they know they have done everything they can to try and prevent an injury and improve their game.