Have you noticed people running and biking with kinesiology tape on their legs, ankles, knees or shoulders? Ever wondered if it works?
After I noticed people with tape, I was curious. Does it work? Does it hurt? How do you put it on?
In my experience, it makes a HUGE difference to my recovery and prevention.
When I’m going on a run, I like to have my right Achilles tendon taped with kinesiology tape. I don’t always use it on a bike ride, but I do if there are hills.
Kinesiology tape helps to increase the blood circulation and reduce inflammation for faster healing. I find that it works well for preventing new flare-ups.
The tape stretches like an elastic, so it moves as you move. It lifts the skin and makes a space between the dermis layer and the muscles which takes some of the pressure off and helps with drainage and blood flow.
I was taped for the first time a few years ago. A friend of mine, who had just taken a course on kinesology taping, asked if she could tape my calf and ankle. She acted like I would be doing her a favor by letting her practice on me. We had just taken a long, strenuous bike ride up some serious hills, so I jumped at the chance to see if it made a difference. In the next few hours, as we enjoyed a post ride beer and chatted, I honestly didn’t notice anything at all.
But the next morning, I remember waking up the next day being AMAZED at how great my Achilles felt!
Instead of being stiff and sore like it usually was when I put my heal to the ground, it didn’t feel like anything. It felt totally normal, without anything. And this was after a very strong, long bike ride with some big hills.
Normally it would have been an issue.
I decided to add taping to my prevention and recovery plan, along with ice, rolling and stretching.
Since then I have learned to tape my own Achilles tendon.
Here’s what I do when I apply tape.
- Before applying the tape, cut the lengths you want from the roll. I use one long one (about 8 inches) and one short one (about 4 inches).
- You’ll want to round the corners (I didn’t in my photos, but I should have!) Square corners cause snagging. Socks, pants etc. will snag on the corners of the tape when you change clothes and it will start to peel.
- The anchor points of the tape need to have NO stretch. The middle parts of the tape should stretch. Each brand seems to suggest a slightly different amount of stretch from 50% to 80%. It’s a guesstimate. They all agree on no stretch at the anchor point. The way you get a percent is stretch it 100% and then back off from there.
- To apply the tape for Achilles, you want to do the dorsiflection to get your toes are pulled up toward the shin and knee. This stretches your Achilles tendon long, otherwise the tape will tend to pull off as you walk.
- Apply the long tape first, starting at the heel as the first anchor. Peel off the backing from the tape, Attach the tape to your heel. Rub it down.
- Peel the backing off the long piece. Stretch it and back off, but don’t attach the long piece to your calf just yet. Peel the top anchor section. Touch the top anchor to the calf and apply with NO tension. Attach the rest of the tape and rub.
- Before applying the strip of tape across, you will score the paper backing in the middle. Then tug with both hands to split the paper backing. This allows the stretch of the tape in the middle.
- Go across the lump – the painful part of the Achilles. The shorter piece goes across the most painful area to help provide relief to the most tender section. For me it is right where the little lump is just above the heal, just about where the back of my shoe ends.
- Give a good rub to activate the stickiness
I recommend taking the time to make the nice rounded corners. (Do as I say, not as I do!) Rounded corners keeps the tape from catching on clothing or when taking socks on and off. I like to roll my sock over the tape.
When I was traveling on vacation, I brought two sets of pre-cut tape with me. I didn’t want to bother with carrying scissors.
You can get the tape wet in the shower, however some brands work better than others. I have used several different brands and there is a difference. KT tape seems like the highest quality but also the price. I’ve also used RockTape, Spartan tape and something I bought on closeout from Amazon. Prices range for rolls from $20 for 16 feet to $7 for 50 feet. You get what you pay for… You can also buy it in precut strips which is very convenient, but of course, costs a little more.
Over the past couple of years I have purchased and used different brands and types. Here is my experience with them:
- KT Tape Original Cotton Elastic Kinesiology Therapeutic Sports Tape
$9.95 for 20 Pre cut 10 inch Strips, Breathable.
Feels the best on my skin. I think it works the best. KT also has great videos on how to wrap:
- RockTape Kinesiology Tape for Athletes, Water Resistant, Reduce Pain and Injury Recovery, 180% Elastic Stretch, 1 Roll, 16.4 Feet
$16.24 Lifts well, stays on well and doesn’t irritate skin my skin. Good stretching. RockTape Application PDF helps explain how to apply – where and why.
- Spartan Kinesiology Tape Perfect Support for Athletic Sports, Recovery and PhysioTherapy
Uncut 2 inch x 16.4 feet of tape with a printed Kinesiology Taping Guide. (Here’s their 41 page guide.) Works pretty well, stays on for about 3 days.
about $9.95 on Amazon.
- MetaTape Kinesiology Tape, Roll
2 rolls of 2 in. x 25 ft. Uncut $6.95 by Meta Fitness Gear. This was on close-out on Amazon.
Can’t beat the price, but the tape doesn’t stick very well and the tape just isn’t as effective in lifting the skin.
- Athletic tape from a bin in Play It Again Sports. No brand name, just shrink wrapped tape. No paper backing, No stretch. Less than $3.00 for a roll.
Not at all the same thing. Don’t be confused. It gives ankle support, which is great if you feel like you’re likely to sprain an ankle, but it doesn’t move with you and seems like the opposite effect. I used to tape my ankle years ago after it healed from a sprain to give me support when I was doing an activity.
Depending on the brand of tape and how many showers I take, it can last up to 4 days before coming off. I have noticed that the MetaTape may not even last one day.
Back in 2006-7 when I was first going to physical therapy, they only used the regular athletic tape. So I used to use that to give my ankle support. Athletic tape is not the same thing as kinesiology tape.
These tapes have a backing on them which helps in the application. You cut the pieces first, and you don’t wrap the ankle to keep it stiff. The idea is to lift the skin away from the underlying tissue and muscle slightly. This allows the fluid and blood to move more easily.
Kinesology Tape Aesthetics
Tapes come in many colors and some even have prints. On race day, it’s nice to coordinate with your outfit if the tape will show. (ha ha!)
Day to day, taller socks or slacks helps to cover it. In fact, using compression socks can help with the calf tightness which is the actual cause of the Achilles problem for me.
I don’t just use it for running, riding or working out. I like to dance at weddings, but when there is that much sitting before the band starts. (and sometimes a long drive in the car before and after.) I know that there isn’t an opportunity to do my stretching routine before getting up to dance. I like to have tape on my ankle before getting up on the dance floor, but don’t want my tape to show. A bit awkward when wearing a dress, but if you wear a long dress, or if you can wear dark tights, it solves the problem.
Yesterday I did 6 miles of running with a lot of hills in the Cleveland Metro parks. Of course, I taped up before I ran. And today, I’m happy to report, my Achilles is doing very well.
Have you ever tried Kinesiology Tape for recovering from tendon pain or preventing an injury? Let me know what your results have been.