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Kinesio Tape – That Black Tape Derrick Rose is Wearing On His Neck

Kinesio Tape – That Black Tape Derrick Rose is Wearing On His Neck

by Stephen Caronia

Derrick Rose has already gotten a lot of heat in the past year for how he handled the rehabilitation of his knee after undergoing ACL reconstruction surgery.  Now it seems that Rose is dealing with a another injury, albeit minor, the dreaded “neck soreness”.

Now, sitting here at my computer I have no idea why Rose’s neck is sore.  Maybe he slept funny.  Maybe he twisted it a bit chasing after his dog.  I haven’t a clue.  But whatever it is, it was bothering him enough for it to become newsworthy.  So what does a trainer do when the team’s most precious investment has neck pain? Throw some tape on it!

It also comes in fancy pastel colors.

The tape the Rose is wearing is called Kinesiotape.  Kenzo Kase, a Japenese chiropractor, invented the stuff about 30 years ago, initially using it on sumo wrestlers.  The tape experienced a huge popularity boost in the Unites States when Kerri Walsh, of volleyball gold medal fame with her partner Misty May, began sporting the tape because of a shoulder injury.  Everyone started saying “what’s that?” and, lo and behold, Kinesiotape was all over the shelves.

Kinesio tape also provides Olympic gold medals.

Kinesiotape is an elastic, cotton-based tape that can (allegedly) provide help in a number of ways.  The theory behind it is that it gently pulls and lifts the skin when applied, stimulating the vascular system and providing an increase in blood flow to a given area.  Depending on the shape of application and tension placed on the tape, one can gain pain relief, a decrease in muscle spasm, swelling relief, muscle activation or deactivation, or proprioceptive feedback (telling your brain where a part of your body is).

There is some research to support its use for a variety of injuries, but its not overwhelmingly positive.  However, some of the best support is in favor of using it for acute neck pain.  In other words, if your patient comes down with a sudden bout of neck pain you can reasonably slap some tape on there and see if it helps.  I’ve done this many times with my patient and it often works.  Is it science? Placebo? The answer is: who cares if it is safe, cost-effective, and it helps your patient?

“Keeping my neck stable,” Rose said when asked about the tape according to ESPN. “When you have a crick in your neck it’s kind of hard to turn side to side so it’s kind of keeping my neck in line and making sure my vertebraes are safe.”

Or is it like this magic rock that keeps tigers away?

I don’t think the tape is doing all that.  But most importantly: “He thinks it helps him,” says Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. “So we’re good with it.”

When your star player thinks it helps, whether its kinesio tape or magic underpants, you let him wear it.



Steve Caronia is a New York City based physical therapist. He uses kinesio tape regularly and thinks its efficacy is better than the rock that keeps tigers away.