For the longest time I thought the black sinewy thing on Olympic beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh's shoulder was either a confused Alien face sucker, a horny spider, a bad tattoo decision (a la Mike Tyson), or all of the above. Turns out I was way off, and it's actually Kinesio athletic tape from a company in Albuquerque. And upon further inspection, the hype surrounding the US$15 tape appears justified, and goes way beyond helping athletes.
In addition to gracing the shoulder of one of America's finest looking athletes, the Kinesio tape also boasts magical properties, like the ability to assist and support muscles without inhibiting a joint's range of motion. Kinesio tape has actually been around for a while, and is available for a range of uses, but it took the modern-day Olympic games (and the right "spokeswoman") to see orders shoot up from 250 a month to 1,600 in a weekend.
John Jarvis, director of Kinesio USA, says the tape has graced the bodies of Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, countless baseball and football players, and cycling superman Lance Armstrong.
Surprisingly, Forbes notes that athletes comprise only 10% of Kenesio USA's customers. The largest market is pediatrics, where doctors have been helping children deal with neurological disorders for the past 25 years. With disorders like cerebral palsy, for example, the tape is used to help strengthen weak muscles. Kerri Walsh is great and all, but that's the real reason I can get behind this product. [Forbes]