Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Magic tape

Have you seen people at the gym lately with brightly-colored pieces of tape stuck to their skin?  If so, it's not some kind of strange fashion statement, nor a new sort of method for closing surgical incisions; it's the latest way for people with genuine medical issues not to get any better.

Developed by Dr. Kenzo Kase -- at least he claims to be a doctor, but after some of the statements he makes, you have to wonder -- the technique, called "KinesioTaping," allegedly helps everything from sprains and strains to arthritis, herniated discs, tendonitis, whiplash, TMJ, Bell's palsy, migraines, and plantar fascitis.  (See his website, containing these claims, here.)  All that from pieces of tape.  Pretty impressive.

So, how does it work, you might ask?  The idea is that if you put a piece of tape on your skin, it lifts the layers of the skin and allows "blood and lymphatic fluid" to drain away.  Since the collected blood and lymphatic fluid were what was causing the pain, the pain goes away.  Right?  Of course right.  Let's demonstrate that with a little experiment.

Let's say that the layers of your skin are a little like a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.  The jelly (raspberry jelly, of course) represents the accumulated fluid that is building up and causing the peanut butter to ache.  Now, get a piece of duct tape, since I doubt you want to pay $50 for a "KinesioTape Starter Pack" anyhow.  Put a piece of duct tape on the top slice of bread, and it should levitate and allow the raspberry jelly to drain away.  Um... keep watching, it should happen any moment now.  Um.  Look, I think the bread moved a little!  See, a little of the jelly dripped on the plate!  It's working!

Okay, maybe not so much.  But this hasn't stopped people like Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams, Kerri Walsh, and David Beckham from sticking the stuff all over themselves, although in Beckham's case it may just have been so he had another excuse for taking his shirt off in front of his fans. 

So, what are Dr. Kase's credentials, then?  Hard to tell.  He's apparently a certified chiropractor in Japan, but whether he's actually studied medicine and merits the "Dr." in front of his name is a matter of conjecture.  I'm to be excused for asking the question, given a statement he made in an interview in the UK Guardian (here) in which he explains why he never has jet lag:
I will be 69 in October and I visit 15 countries for work; that is too much travel for an old man. The reason we get jet lag is because we are at very high altitude and that causes our body temperatures to go up – you notice that kids don't really suffer from it, because their fluid maintenance is much better than old people's. So the first thing I do after flying is jump into cold water, even during winter. That brings my body temperature down and I don't have jet lag.
 So, jet lag has nothing to do with changing time zones, sleep patterns, and the like, it has to do with your body temperature rising because of your "fluid maintenance."

Well, sorry, Dr. Kase, I'm not plastering tape all over myself next time I go lift weights, even as an experiment, and I can explain why in two words:  "body hair."  And I'm not going to jump into cold water after a long airplane flight, and I can explain why in one word:  "AIIIEEEEEE."  Your medical advice sounds like a lot of pseudoscientific nonsense to me, and throwing around names like "Lance Armstrong" and "Serena Williams" doesn't impress me, because I've found that there's no particular correlation between fame and brains.

However, I seem to be in the minority here, because Dr. Kase's magical tape has been selling like mad.  In what may become an epic Battle of the Bullshit, it's looking like it may outsell Power Bracelets.  (In fact, when I went to Dr. Kase's site to look up the price of a "starter pack," it stated that it was "Temporarily Out of Stock.")  And once again, we have the issue of people buying into a quack cure and very likely not seeking prompt, and legitimate, medical treatment -- making me question how this sort of thing is not both fraud and medical malpractice.

Be that as it may, you should start looking for people showing up at your local gym with tape all over their arms and legs, in lovely designer colors.  Resist the temptation to run up and rip it off, which is what I wanted to do to the grinning models on Dr. Kase's website. 

1 comment:


    A relative, maybe?