You play sports and eventually you’re going to get injured, whether you’re a weekend warrior or an Olympian. Sports docs have been taping injuries for athletes since high school football was invented, and maybe even before. Now, thanks to Rocktape and Spidertech you don’t need a guy in polyester shorts with a whistle to help you get back to your game. Supporting your bruises, sprains and strains with athletic tap is DIY with both brands of high tech athletic tape; they come with instruction manuals and online how-to videos. Spidertech’s system is, in fact, taping for dummies. The company has tape by number instructions, pre-cut tape shapes and their videos are shot with a helmet cam from your perspective.
Almost all pain is caused by nerve impingement. After an injury, nerves are squeezed by fluid collecting in the injured area—swelling. Kinesiology tape drains the fluids that cause swelling while accelerating blood flow to the injured area to promote healing. Athletic tape applied correctly lifts your skin away from your muscle relieving pressure on pain receptors just under your skin. It also provides a proprioceptive queue, meaning that the when your ankle, elbow or thumb is taped, you’ve flagged the injured area to remind all your body systems to pay it extra attention and send healing vibes.
Both Rocktape and Spidertech are new takes on the white sticky tape your coach used to use. They’re both thin and stretchy. Rocktape has a new glue that won’t sweat off or rinse off in the shower or in the pool, and which can even take a dousing in the company’s own Ben Gay-like pain-relieving Rock Sauce. Plus, you can get it in every print and pattern from argyle to your home country’s flag.
Spidertech’s Japan-made tape has been around for over 30 years, and comes pre-cut for most effective application. Use both on shin splints, sore IT bands, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, runner¹s knee, skier’s thumb and anything else you can do to yourself on a ski slope that doesn’t involve broken bones. Both companies swear that you’ll be back on the slopes faster.
But you don’t need to wait until you’re injured to use it. Athletes at the London Olympics this summer were plastered with tape because it turns out it’s also a (legal) performance enhancer. Kinesiology tape increases blood flow to the taped area as well as muscle stability without restricting movement. Faster blood flow means more oxygen and more lymph drainage, which helps performance. By preemptively taping body parts that fatigue, both Rocktape and Spidertech say that you can significantly delay the onset of fatigue. $7–$40, get some at rocktape.com or spidertech.com.