Hot Olympic accessory Kinesio tape has critics

Greta Cicolari, left, jumps to block a shot of llka Semmler, right, of Germany during the Women\'s Bronze Medal match between Greta Cicolari, Marta Menegatti of Italy and Katrin Holtwick, llka Semmler of Germany at the Berlin Beach Volleyball Grand Slam in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, July 15, 2012. Semmler is wearing pink Kinesio tape on her arm. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

Paula Wolfson,

WASHINGTON – It was everywhere during the Olympic Games.

Divers covered their lower backs with colorful strips of it. Sprinters put it on their legs. Beach volleyball players applied it to their abs.

The hottest athletic accessory at the games was Kinesio tape, invented in the 1970s by Japanese chiropractor and acupuncturist Kenzio Kase.

Kase figured a flexible tape would help muscles heal by stimulating circulation. But athletes these days are using it on just about any muscle.

“The only thing they think it will do is give them an edge,” says Sameer Mehta, an outpatient physical therapist with Medstar Georgetown University Hospital.

But Mehta is skeptical of any real benefits.

“It is just tape, and nothing more than that,” Mehta says.

“A lot of the studies don’t support it and that is why you don’t always see it in such a large capacity in the clinical setting.”

Mehta says there could be a placebo effect at work, and he expects more patients to ask about Kinesio tape in the aftermath of the Olympics. He says there is no proof helps, but it doesn’t hurt.

“You could wear it, I could wear it, anybody could wear it. It doesn’t have any ill affect.”

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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