Tale of the Tape: WWE.com explains the black tape covering John Cena's arm on Raw

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October 10, 2012

When John Cena made his return to Raw this past Monday in Sacramento, Calif., the 10-time WWE Champion had removed the sling that held his injured arm during his previous appearance two weeks earlier and, in its place, sported an intricate web of athletic tape. The crisscross, spiderweb-looking tape covering the Cenation leader’s arm left a big impression visually on the WWE Universe, but nary a word was spoken as to what, exactly, it was. (VIEW PHOTOS)

The answer? SpiderTech, a type of athletic adhesive that speeds up the recovery process.

The adhesive is a groundbreaking recovery method to help athletes recuperate from major injuries, and has been “breaking new ground” in the field of sports medicine for the last 25 years, according to its official website. The tape is prevalent among noteworthy athletes besides Cena including David Beckham, Italian striker Mario Balotelli and several Olympians in the 2012 Summer Games like Trey Hardee, a U.S. silver medalist in the decathlon, and various volleyball players.

The application (and purpose) of the tape is fairly complicated, but Chris Arrigo, the owner of Advanced Rehabilitation in South Tampa, Fla., and Cena’s physical therapist (he helped Cena recuperate from his pectoral tear in 2007), explained the function of the tape to WWE.com.

“It basically does 2 or 3 main things,” he said. “It helps reduce pain … eliminate swelling under the skin and helps support the muscles and joints for improved, pain-free movement. The tape lifts the skin to promote the flow of lymphatic fluid, which helps reduce associated swelling.”

Arrigo is optimistic in terms of the process thus far. “John’s rehab is going well,” Arrigo said. “He is improving slowly but steadily and progressing as expected following the surgery that he had.”

At this point, Cena is only wearing the tape in between his rehab sessions to keep the swelling and pain at bay, and he is nearing full capacity for both extension and flexing of his elbow. In other words, he's a long way from the sling already.

So, in layman’s terms, the adhesive essentially supports the Cenation leader’s arm while he recuperates from the surgery he underwent Sept. 18 to remove bone chips in his elbow. Those black webs are the outlines of the muscles in his arm (needless to add, there were lots of webs). So fear not, Cenation: It’s not a tattoo. It’s not permanent. Given the quick recovery time promoted by the tape itself, it’s highly likely that it won’t be there for long anyway.

Speaking of which: As for the question on the WWE Universe’s mind, will the Cenation leader be ready by the time a potential WWE Title Match at Hell in a Cell rolls around?

“That’s certainly the target on everybody’s radar involved in the process,” Arrigo told WWE.com. “John works as hard as anybody I’ve ever been around and is doing more than everything he can on his part. The jury’s still out on whether or not his elbow will be ready health-wise, but that’s the marker everybody is shooting for. Certainly if he continues to improve steadily, day over day, then I would expect that to be a reality.”

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