Why Are Olympics Skiers Wearing Kinesiology Tape on Their Faces? 46440

The athletes believe the tape helps to shield them from the harsh temperatures and wind as they compete at the Winter Olympics.

Norbert Sparrow

February 16, 2022

2 Min Read
winter sports athletes
KT Tape athletes (left to right) Mia Manganello Kilburg, Kristen Santos, Maame Biney, and Oksana Masters.Image courtesy of KT Tape

The snow may be fake, but the cold is very real at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, where temperatures have plunged into the single digits. Skiers and some other athletes have found a novel way to shield their faces from the harsh elements — by placing kinesiology tape across their noses and cheeks.

One of the most popular kinesiology tape brands, KT Tape has been a familiar presence at the Olympic Games, where it is sponsored by several athletes. Its intended use is to relieve pain and provide support in muscles, joints, and ligaments. All types of kinesiology tape do this in essentially the same manner — when the stretchy tape is applied to the body, it recoils slightly, gently lifting the skin, explains Healthline. This reportedly helps to create a microscopic space between the skin and underlying tissues. By creating a space in joints, the tape may help to reduce joint irritation. Some studies purport to show that it alters the signals that pain receptors send to the brain, and that it also may improve circulation, according to Healthline. Marathon runners are avid users. Whether or not it really works is still up for debate — some medical experts think it has a placebo effect.

When it was invented in the late 1970s by a Japanese chiropractor, kinesiology tape was made of a blend of cotton and nylon to achieve the elasticity, which is a core feature, and a medical-grade adhesive. KT Tape, based in American Fork, UT, and founded in 2008, is made of 100% cotton fibers with elastic cores. The brand also has a Pro line made from an engineered synthetic fabric with stronger elastic cores. “Both the cotton and synthetic materials create unidirectional elasticity, which allows the athletic tape to stretch in length but not in width,” the company explains on its website. “As a result, the elastic fibers provide stable support without restricting range of motion like a traditional rigid athletic tape.” The adhesive used in KT Tape is latex-free and hypo allergenic.

The question remains whether, or even how, KT tape can protect athletes’ faces from the elements. There is no clinical evidence to support that use, and, as such, KT Tape doesn’t endorse it, KT Tape CEO Greg Venner told USA Today. He also cautioned that the adhesive that works so well to keep the tape in place for its intended use can be difficult to remove from the delicate skin on the face. “However, we certainly applaud the creativity — we are proud to support Team USA!” he added.

And who can argue with that?

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 20 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree. Reach him at [email protected].


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