Modern medical technology has created some fantastic products for adult athletes to use in dealing with injuries and the natural issues associated with aging bodies. However, with the growing use of these technologies, we have to consider questions about their use in competition. As always, our goal is to have a fair and equitable application of the rules that facilitate participation in competition. The rules are written to limit the use of items that provide for a competitive advantage.
We have received many questions regarding the use of therapeutic elastic tape. While the use of the products may prove to be of great use for some swimmers recovering from injuries or in training, the use of many of these products creates a competitive advantage and are therefore not permitted in USMS competition.
The current swimsuit rules date to 2009 and the premise of the rules are that substances which provide additional muscle compression; or anything that enhances speed, pace, or buoyancy are not permitted.
USMS rule 102.12.1-E (governing pool events) says that “Any kind of tape worn on the body is not permitted unless approved by the referee”. USMS rule 303.7.3-C (governing long distance and open water event) also says that "Any kind of tape worn on the body is not permitted unless approved by the referee”
Per USMS Article 507.1.13, the Rules Committee issues interpretations of Part One rules. Per USMS Article 507.1.7, the USMS Long Distance Committee oversees the rules and administration of long distance and open water events (Part Three).
Therefore, to provide clearer guidance for officials, the following interpretation is issued jointly by the USMS Rules Committee and USMS Long Distance Committee.
“The use of tape in competition is limited to situations involving verified medical conditions. The application of tape is intended to be for situations such as wound closure, taping of fingers or toes, taping to secure medical devices, or other limited uses that would not provide any competitive advantage. The use of any kind of tape that purports to provide muscle compression; muscle, joint, or ligament stabilization; or other physical benefits, including therapeutic elastic tape or similar products, is never permitted in USMS competition.”
Examples of such products include Kinesio® Tape, KT Tape, Kinesiology Tape, Cho-Pat® and Spider Tech. But, there may very well be additional products and brands.
Even in the case of disability accommodations or medical exceptions to the swimwear rules, we would not grant an exception that creates a competitive advantage. While these are considered on a case-by-case basis, this interpretation will remain the guiding principle. USMS is consistent with USA-Swimming in our interpretation regarding the use of these products.
If you have questions on the use of a specific product, please direct those questions to the Meet or Race Referee, the Rules Committee Chair (email@example.com) for pool events, and the Open Water Committee Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org) for open water events.
USMS Rules Committee Chair
My first instability event occurred exactly one year later, in June of 2009. I was at my work gym using the weight machines, doing my usual routine, when I reached up to begin a wide lateral pull-down set at 50lbs. As soon as I started the pull, I felt a rip, crunch, and a pop in my shoulder. I immediately let go of the bar and thought to myself “what the hell was that?!” As soon as I asked myself that I knew what had happened. I was a bit shaken, but there wasn’t a lot of pain. When I got home I told my husband that I thought I had re-dislocated my shoulder.
The next day, my shoulder was pretty sore. The weakness, coldness, and pins and needles all came back. It was only at this point that I went on the internet and started researching shoulder instability. I learned that my shoulder had ‘subluxed’ (i.e., partially dislocated) and then reduced on its own. I also learned that this was fairly common for people who had experienced a traumatic dislocation previously. So I didn’t really feel the need to go in and see the doctor, as I felt like there wasn’t much to be done besides ibuprofen, rest, and to start up those tubing exercises again.
But of course, the following weekend I was at my pool, testing my shoulder out, lol. It felt much like after I had dislocated it the previous year, so I just took it easy. Again, not a lot of significant pain, just the soreness and nerve issues.
I won’t go into deal about all my subluxation events, but here’s a brief description. From June 2009 to June 2011, I think I experienced almost a dozen subluxations, occurring when:
-Putting on a shirt
-Reaching out to close my car door
-Reaching back to grab my seat belt
-Reaching out to stretch (You know, that big yawn/back arched/arms in the air stretch you do when you sit up in bed in the morning? This one happened a few times before I finally learned to only do this with my right arm in the air, lol.)
-Reaching up to change a light bulb, and then sneezing
-Leaning down to tie my shoe, and then pulling ‘too hard’ with the final tug of the laces
As you can see, every day activities could cause a rip/crunch/pop/subluxation situation for me. Eventually I learned to just try and keep my elbow close to my body. But, I just carried on. Over these years I continued to swim ~2500 yards, once a week. I knew that swimming itself wasn’t causing these events, so I just took it easy in the pool whenever I needed to. Every once in a while, I’d swim a 50 or 100 of backstroke to check on “the click” to see if it still existed (yep), and pretty much just lived with it.
Fast forward to May 2008. At this time I was married, living in Portland, Oregon, and had been working my first 'real' job at the state Public Health Division for about two years. I was swimming once a week at my local pool, but I was starting to feel a bit old at the ripe age of 26. I felt like I needed to do something crazy, so I decided to take up something that I’ve always wanted to learn: skateboarding.
Things started off really good. Six weeks into it, my balance was much improved and I was feeling really comfortable cruising around at some fairly good speed, and I hadn’t hit the ground once yet! A friend of mine decided to take up skateboarding with me, so on the weekends we would hit up deserted parking lots and cruise around. One sunny evening in June, we were out at Swan Island cruising around the huge FedEx parking lot. I was cruising around, and I remember that I was headed towards a wet patch that the sprinklers had created. Well, least to say, I didn’t make it through that wet patch. It tripped me up for some reason, and I fell spot on my left shoulder.
I immediately knew I had dislocated it. Mainly due to the obvious popping sensation that I had felt, plus I couldn’t move my arm. I was on the ground, and I couldn’t get my arm to move to get myself back up. Then, the pain came. HOLY HELL! And my friend was nowhere to be found. I knew she must have been waaay over on the other side of parking lot, so I laid there and waited…and waited….and waited. It felt like 15 or 20 minutes before I knew that if I wanted medical attention any time soon, I would need to get up and find her. So, I took a deep breath, and managed to get up. Holding my arm as pain went searing through my body, I hobbled to the other side of the parking lot and found her.
After I finally got to the hospital, it was still a good two and a half hours worth of waiting before my shoulder was put back into place. First, I had to wait my turn in the jam-packed ER. Then, I had to get X-rays to confirm that my shoulder was *actually* dislocated before they would give me pain meds (WTF!). Finally, I was prepped with an IV, as they knock you out so they can get your shoulder back in more easily. I was all ready to go when the doctors came over. But then they told me that I looked “more flexible” than average (thanks to swimming??), and that they were going to try to reduce it without knocking me out. I had to lie on my stomach with my arm dangling over the edge of the table, and it was only 2-3 seconds of intense pain before they got it to pop back in. Most relieving feeling ever!!! I was sent home in a sling and was told that the Orthopedics and Physical Therapy departments would be calling me soon. I thought to myself, “Well, I guess I get a few days off work, and I have pain meds, so thats not too bad!”
A few days later, I found myself sitting in my living room flipping through the TV channels, when I came across the ‘live’ airing of the 2008 Olympic swimming trials on NBC. I looked down at my arm in my sling, and then the realization came. I then thought to myself, “Oh F*&%, what have I done?!”
Updated September 21st, 2012 at 12:21 PM by swimslick