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German beach volleyball player Ilka Semmler wears it on her buttocks - in pink. Swedish handball player Johanna Wiberg prefers it in blue from her knee to her groin. British sprinter Dwain Chambers has even worn it with a Union Jack design. Athletic tape made in every color under the sun seems to be the latest must-have sports injury treatment at London 2012, where athletes may have been influenced by other big name tape fans such as Serena Williams and David Beckham.
Called Kinesio tape and developed by a Japanese doctor more than 30 years ago, the adhesive strapping is designed to provide muscle and joint support without restricting movement. According to Kinesio's product website, it is also designed to be used with a particular taping technique - a skill practitioners need to learn on a special training course.
Kevin Anderson, managing director of Kinesio UK, which supplies the tape in Britain and trains people in how to apply it, says the scientific research has yet to catch up with what athletes and physiotherapists say about the tape's benefits. "There's a lot more needed on the research side to confirm the positive results we're seeing so far," he told Reuters. "There's nothing magical in the tape, it certainly can't improve your performance or make you into Superman, but the way people use the tape is to lift the skin, reduce the pressure and that helps relieve pain and swelling."