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Tale Of The Tape

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic used kinesiology tape around his left knee as a precaution during his title run in Dubai.

It may not win any fashion awards, but eye-catching kinesiology tape continues to grow in popularity with pro tennis players. Invented in the 1970s by Japanese chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase, the tape has many benefits, including management of a variety of injuries afflicting players, including shoulder, knee and even back complaints.

Novak Djokovic wore very conspicuous kinesiology tape around his left knee during his title run at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships last week, saying it was a ‘precaution’ only. Anyone who witnessed Djokovic’s outstanding play and exceptional court coverage could see one of the key benefits of the tape: Unlike regular tape, it does not impede movement - good movement, that is.

“The tape is very helpful to players, assisting with posture, decreasing pain, and improving range of motion," says ATP physiotherapist Clay Sniteman.

Kinesiology tape is ideal to use to support a knee which may not be tracking properly, because you can apply it to allow movement in one direction, but not the other. Other forms of tape, typically wrapped tight for compression, are more rigid and overly restrict a player’s movement. On the ATP World Tour, good movement is fundamental to success. How important is movement? As tennis fans know, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Djokovic aren’t just three of the best shotmakers in the game; they are three of the best movers. 

Compeed

Kinesiology tape, which is tensioned and applied in a variety of patterns, is also well suited for shoulders. The tape can allow for movement in the direction the shoulder should move, but avoid improper movements that can cause or exacerbate injuries.

Applied firmly to clean, sweat-free and hair-free skin, the breathable and stretchable tape can stay in place for up to five days. It can also be used to treat swelling and for proprioception, to keep acute or chronic knee and shoulder problems in a pain-free range. The tape can be used on virtually all joints, although it is rarely applied to the hands and wrist, where players do not want to restrict motion.

The tape can be used to lift the skin, allowing fluid to drain. Following operations the tape can be used to decrease acute swelling and inflammation by improving circulation, and to reduce pain.

Kinesiology tape is widely available for purchase in sports stores and on the internet, with a 16 foot roll retailing for around $11.

- Written in association with ATP physiotherapist Clay Sniteman.

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