This week, Utah-based KT Tape announced that Olympic runner Meb Keflezighi, swimmer Tucker Dupree and gymnast Kerri Strug will join the company’s family of brand ambassadors. Athletes such as three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and NBA player James Harden are among the recognizable stars who use KT Tape — the leader in kinesiology therapeutic tape — during competition.
If you’re not familiar with kinesiology therapeutic tape, it’s used to support muscles, joints and ligaments; relieve pain; and address minor injuries in both indoor and outdoor environments. The company’s YouTube page shows various applications in sports such as running, basketball, tennis, volleyball and soccer, among others. Those who are new to its many uses typically have to undergo a brief educational session on how to apply the tape.
KT Tape is allowed in most Olympic events, according to CEO Greg Venner in a recent interview with byteclay.com. “Generally, Olympic athletes are allowed to wear KT Tape, except for swimming and gymnastics where certain colors are not allowed. KT Tape is viewed as part of medical director’s bag, if you will,” says Venner.
The company was founded in 2008 following the Beijing Olympic Games, and its products soon caught the attention of Olympic hopefuls and professional players — athletes who are routinely pushing their bodies to the limit and testing new technologies that will help them break records. In 2014, the U.S. national soccer team adopted KT Tape as part of its regimen, and they were soon followed by other national teams.
The original product consisted of cotton, but the modern versions that will be on display in the 2016 Rio Games consist of synthetic material that work better in wet environments and extreme conditions. The synthetic material can also provide better durability and elasticity, according to Venner. KT Tape recently became the official licensee of the U.S. Olympic Team and official partner of USA Cycling, USA Gymnastics, USA Rugby, USA Track & Field, USA Triathlon and USA Wrestling.
This month, KT Tape announced the introduction of four new products in time for the 2016 Olympics, and these were developed after years of athlete feedback about key applications that could improve — indeed optimize — their performance on the field. “For each of these products, we have different insights that helped us develop them,” says Venner. These innovative therapeutic tapes can lead to greater adoption in various sports at the 2016 Summer Games and 2018 Winter Games.
For instance, the KT Tape Pro Extreme version is designed for muscle support and pain relief in extreme conditions while the Recovery Patch can reduce swelling and inflammation from muscle injuries. KT Flex provides support for weak or injured knees. And finally, the Ice/Heat Compression Therapy System can speed up recovery from a challenging workout or injury, according a recent company statement.
There are various markets that could benefit from kinesiology therapeutic tape, including athletes and sports activists, the medical field, military and ordinary consumers. However, CEO Greg Venner says the company is currently focused on helping the athlete market and “weekend warriors” to improve their physical performance.
“We focus mainly on the professional athlete market and weekend warriors — such as everyday athletes. Some of the prominent athletes help us gain visibility and awareness. Running is our most developed sport,” says Venner.
So far, the Utah-based company has enjoyed great success — growing from a largely online presence in the early years to now having captured nearly 90% of the retail market. (Their products are available in nearly 35,000 retail locations in the U.S.) KT Tape has gained massive distribution channels through Walmart, Target, Dicks Sporting Goods, CVS and other retailers. The Summer Games should provide greater visibility for the brand as athletes strive to push the envelope and reach new heights in their particular sport.