Basketball star James Harden won’t be going for gold at the Rio Summer Olympic Games, but plenty of other athletes will be wearing that blue tape Harden wears to “get the blood flowing and circulating around.” The blue tape you’ll see taped to the skin of Olympic athletes from volleyball players and runners to pole vaulters and gymnasts is kinesiology tape — or kinesio tape or (KT) Tape, depending on the maker — the same stuff Harden wears on his busy shooting arm. Kinesiology tape comes in different colors, but the most popular color seems to be a sky blue.
The latex-free high grade cotton or synthetic fiber tape is said to reduce inflammation and pain, and helps tired muscles recover while also supporting muscles and allowing them to move more freely. Some people believe it works. Some don’t. Research has shown some positive effect, but as with rally caps and other sports superstitions there is no doubting a strong psychological effect. Hey, a placebo that works is the best drug in the world. And at the Olympics, where a tenth of a second can stand between glory and almost, every edge — any edge — counts.