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rock tape blue argyle pattern

Remember the 2008 Summer Olympics when Kerri Walsh came out with some weird tape all over her shoulder? Back then, hardly anyone knew about kinesiology tape. Fast forward to today, and you see the tape everywhere! Pro athletes and weekend warriors alike are using the tape to relieve pain and prevent injury.

If you happened to see the blue argyle tape during this year’s Tour de France, you spotted RockTape, the official kinesiology tape for Team Garmin-Sharp.

Using the tape is sort of like using compression garments – the research so far is promising but not conclusive. Most of the hype around using the tape for improved sports performance is from anecdotal evidence. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people were using the tape simply because they see other people using it.

That said, there are so many people using it, from pro athletes to weekend warriors, and A LOT of chiropractors and other health professionals highly recommend this stuff.

The premise is that the tape supports muscles, pushes or pulls tendons and ligaments, holds the skin away from the underlying fascia, improves circulation, reduces swelling, etc. Actually, it would be better to have a chiropractor or sports medicine professional explain it!

In the mean time, here’s a word from Greg from RockTape:

Now, before getting into my testing, you might be wondering…

What Is So Special About RockTape?

What sets RockTape apart from other brands is that it is specially designed to hold up to race conditions. (And if you’ve been paying attention, this year’s Tour de France was a prime example of what “race conditions” means!)

So, whether you’re facing pouring rain, mud, or a lake (perhaps you’re in an Ironman triathlon), RockTape is designed to hold up to it. It’s going to stick by your side through it all (literally.) All the athletes I’ve talked to report the same thing – that the tape will stay on for 5-6 days easily.

Also, RockTape is made with 180% elasticity, which is supposed to allow better mobility compared to competitors’ tapes (which offer offer 130-150% stretch.)

You might pay a bit more, but RockTape say’s it’s worth it.

Who are the competitors?

I know of two – Kinesio Tex and KT Tape. (And yes, the names are confusingly similar!)

I’ve only looked into the KT Tape Pro version, which appears to be quite similar to RockTape.

What you need to watch out for is the regular clinical tape, which is meant to be used in a hospital setting. Those tapes are no good for athletes, as they won’t hold up to any real adventure.

How to Tape with RockTape

The key for any type of kinesiology taping is proper application. You have to know what you’re doing as well as how to do it.

If you’re a runner or cyclist, I’m guessing you want to tape up your knees. Me too!

Here’s how to tape your knee with RockTape:

That’s for general knee pain, or “Cyclist’s Knee” or “Runner’s Knee.” If you want to tape your feet, hamstrings, or lower back instead, you’ll find taping instructions in the RockTape video library.

It’s a great video for the actual taping process, but I need to point out a very important step that wasn’t mentioned in the video.

You need to shave your legs first!

Though the RockTape website made absolutely no mention of this, yes, you absolutely must remove any body hair before applying. Even if you’re sick of shaving, make sure your knees are smooth, dry, and clean before applying the tape.

I scoured the videos and documentation and FAQ and nowhere did I find anything about body hair. So, I assumed Rock Tape was so tough, you could just apply it over body hair and it would stick to your skin. WRONG!

If you have thick hair, the tape is just going to sit on top of the hair, when it needs to be tight against your skin. It’s not going to help one bit!

If you trim your hair first, you’ll get better adhesion, but not my much. The application will only last 1-2 days, instead of 5-6, effectively making it a $60 roll of tape!

Do yourself a favor and shave your legs first, even if it’s the middle of winter when you need to tape them up. And they should be not only smooth, but also dry. Not damp, not sweaty, and certainly not coated in moisturizer. (It’s nearly as complicated as paint, primer, clear coat, drying and recoat times when doing autobody work or custom painting bicycle frames.)

I should also mention…

It’s not as easy as it looks in the video!

Remember, that’s “Greg from RockTape” in the video. And not just “summer intern Greg who made some videos for Youtube.” It’s Greg, the founder and CEO of RockTape. It’s safe to say he’s had more time practicing with the tape than you have!

So don’t expect things to go so smoothly your first time around. From my experience, it’s nowhere near as easy as it looks in the video! I struggled to get the correct radius around my knee. Somehow you’re supposed to turn a straight piece of tape into a half-circle without creasing it. To me, that defies the laws of physics! At the very least, it surpasses the dexterity of my hands.

Unrolling it is easy, and cutting it is easy. But applying it on the correct contours and with the correct amount of stretch is an art form.

rock tape peeling off my knee

The first time I taped my knee I had all sorts of trouble.

I had hairy legs. I forgot to round the corners of the tape. I probably stretched the tape at the exact opposite time of when I was supposed to. It was a mess.

Not surprisingly, the first sensation I got was pain. See, even though the tape doesn’t stick to your skin very well when you have hairy legs, it will stick to the hair like a shameless wheelsucker just waiting to outsprint you at the line.

It hurts because the tape pulls on the hair without letting go. It keeps it at a certain point where you’re in pain, without putting you out of your misery. It’s like 50 people each grab a leg hair and pull on it hard enough to hurt but not hard enough to rip it out.

That torture subsided though, because this first attempt at an application only lasted about 8 hours before peeling off.

Now I can tape like a pro.

Fast forward a few months, and I’m taping much better than I used to. Just like a pro. (OK, nowhere near pro level, but at an acceptable level for my own personal use!)

After miserable attempts at taping up my [hairy] knees and elbows, I encountered some serious foot pain, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. My foot was not covered in hair!

I taped it up and that tape lasted on my foot for 7 days! It withstood multiple showers and workouts, including cycling, running, and rock climbing.

With new found confidence in my taping ability, I finally used it for my knee again (with shaved legs of course,) and had much better results!

I guess with some practice you can get pretty good at using the tape. The best part is, it’s still pretty effective even if you only do a half-decent taping job!

Does RockTape Actually Do Anything?

I was always skeptical about this type of taping in general. For general recovery purposes, sure, but taping to improve performance or heal actual injuries? No way can that work.

Well, I was wrong! I’m not sure if I’ve ever been more wrong!

I didn’t feel much difference immediately after applying the tape. But when I went to move, wow! “What’s going on here?!” is what my brain was confronted with.

rock tape on my knee

It’s like wearing a knee brace… without having to wear the brace.

I’d be sitting in a chair after taping up my bad knee, not thinking much of it, then I’d walk around. As soon as I would start moving around with the tape on, my knee felt better, like it had been stabilized. It was seriously like I had a heavy-duty brace on, but not cumbersome at all, since there was no actual brace!

You can feel the tape, but just a little bit. It’s less obtrusive than my compression knee sleeves, and it doesn’t hinder your movement in any way whatsoever.

What you feel is the tape working. You feel more stable and more mobile.

It’s simply incredible. No matter how much you stress out during the learning phase, the results make it all worthwhile!

The tape worked its magic on my feet, too.

How RockTape made my foot pain disappear.

rock tape on my foot

After a long backpacking trip where I was testing new equipment, my right foot was super sore, and my arch hurt on each step. But I needed to be able to walk the next day. What was I to do?

Well, I sat down, applied a strip of RockTape along the bottom of my foot, then wrapped another strip around my arch. (Basically what you would do for plantar fasciitis.)

I stood up and could walk almost pain free with the tape on!!

It’s great for knee pain, too.

When riding, with one knee taped, the taped knee feels much stronger than the untaped knee! The tape is more supportive than my 2XU leg sleeves, but it’s not bulky like my DonJoy knee brace.

It’s pretty awesome.

Add In Rock Sauce For Complete Recovery

As if the tape itself wasn’t enough, there’s a way to make your muscles and joints feel even better! Add in some Rock Sauce for even better recovery.

It’s a topical pain reliever, sort of like Tiger Balm or Salonpas, but taken to a new extreme. Here’s how they describe it:

To be clear, the Sauce isn’t for everyone. It will make your eyes water and muscles sing. Did we mention it is powerful? How powerful? Try 20% Methyl Salicylate, 10% Menthol and .002% Capsaicin.

I would describe it as a really good, but not outstanding, topical pain reliever. I really like it, but after that description, I was expecting it to blow the competition out of the water. It doesn’t. A few other products are just as potent. My eyes didn’t water.

It smells delicious though! I want to eat some! It really does smell sooo good!! (And the bottle really does say, “Do not eat or drink.”)

It literally smells the same as Necco wafers (those big candy discs that looked like sidewalk chalk but would sort of melt in your mouth.)

And the sensation is one of the best. It gradually starts working and gets hotter and hotter, yet doesn’t burn. I love it.

Even better, this leaves no residue whatsoever on my hands! Nothing has ever soaked in as well as this does. It’s probably the best product in that regard.

rocksauce applied to rocktape

You can also apply it directly onto RockTape:

“When applied directly to the surface of Rocktape, Rock Sauce soaks into Rocktape and slowly releases itself which provides cooling and warmth for up to 1 hour.”

That’s all true. The only detail they don’t mention is how the slow release means you won’t get that same intense sensation as applying the Sauce directly to your skin (a good thing if you’re sensitive.)

To summarize, the good:

  • Smells amazing.
  • Feels awesome.
  • Leaves no residue on your skin.
  • You can apply it directly onto RockTape.

The bad:

  • You can’t eat it.

The good definitely outweighs the bad.

If you want some, just be sure to budget another $20 for a 4oz tube.

The RockTape is more important, but the Sauce is a nice sidekick!

My final verdict is…

If you have a chiropractor or other professional who can tape you up, and you shave off all your body hair, this stuff is excellent! Like, incredible. Verging on magical, even. Highly recommended if you have overuse injuries, or if you ever experience pain or soreness.

If you are a do-it-yourself’er, the tape is still excellent, but be prepared to practice over and over again and waste lots of perfectly good (and expensive) tape in the process. The results are worth it though!

Official website: www.RockTape.com

Buy online: www.Amazon.com

Product Review Details
Company: RockTape
Product: RockTape
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Date last updated: 2014-12-11
Obtained Product: Free sample from company.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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  1. Lucky me, I always shave my legs and have hardly any hair elsewhere! 😀

  2. @Shelly

    Well then, when it comes to RockTape, you have it easy!

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