Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
How do you feel about that stretchy sports tape? I’ve been using it on my shoulder, and it seems to help. (I also liked compression sleeves, which I think you might’ve pooh-pooh-ed.) Is it another case of my overactive imagination?
— El Cabron, Hawaii
Fixing biomechanical bogeymen with pretty colored strips of elastic cotton in stylistic patterns is fanciful. Any change in mechanical function, good or bad, is probably due to altered sensory input and will be negligible, fleeting and entirely inconsistent. Is this a game changer? Only if you care about the latest fashions or are particularly sensitive to placebo effects. You want to get fitter and stronger? Train harder— it’s a science thing!
Data suggests that compression garments may be helpful in recovery. That is, however, still contentious, and anything beyond is outright speculation. I have seen no studies that suggest performance is improved while wearing them.
Feature image by John Groder
This article appeared in Rock and Ice 233