Taping Basics For Runners

Are you a runner that’s had your fair share of injuries? Do you want to learn some simple taping techniques that you can use to reduce your risk of injury and help you train for longer with less niggles? I will try not to bore you with scientific justifications behind each tape and technique, instead I’ll post up easy to follow info and video links so you can DIY at home.

There are two main types of tape that you need to have in your running kit – rigid tape and Kinesio tape (KT). Rigid tape is primarily used to control and limit excessive joint movement or motion while KT is an elastic tape that does not limit movement. KT’s main function is to lessen pain and promote lymphatic drainage by lifting the skin to increase space between skin and myofascial tissue.

Both rigid and KT are used for a myriad of conditions, but I’ll be focusing on the lower limb (knee and below) in this article.

We see many runners through the clinic and have found that the top 5 injuries that benefit greatly from taping are:

  • Plantar fascia related pain (eg. arch and heel pain)
  • Ankle sprains
  • ITB syndrome
  • Patellofemoral pain (knee cap)
  • Turf toe (pain at joint of big toe)

Taping may not be suitable for everybody:

  • Fungal infection: Taping may worsen any fungal infection present on the feet as it creates the ideal environment for fungus to thrive
  • Allergies: If you have an allergy to tape then avoid putting rigid tape directly onto your skin. Instead, cover your skin with hypoallergenic tape (hypafix or KT) first before applying the rigid tape.

How to prep your feet prior to taping.

  • Make sure the area is dry and clean. Hairy feet and legs? Ouch!! It’s best to shave the area before you tape so the tape can stay on longer and will be less painful to peel off.
  • If you have sweaty feet then I suggest using Tincture of Benzoin or Friar’s Balsam. Apply the tincture using a cotton wool ball over the area that you intend to apply the tape.

Fail-safe taping techniques for runners:

  • Plantar fascia pain: Low dye taping is the most popular technique used by many podiatrists for plantar fascia related pain. Some may opt to cover the area with KT first before applying the rigid tape for more support and better adhesion.
  • Inversion sprain: Taping is essential if you have had a sprained ankle or recovering from one. Watch this video where you’ll learn a simple way to tape a typical inversion sprain injury.
  • Knee pain: The McConnell taping technique is great for pain under your knee cap (patellofemoral pain). My go to for knee taping is this simple taping technique that helps give more support to the knees and give it stability for the hill climbs and down hill sprints just using KT.

When should I use tape for running?

Woman running in the rain with taped knee
  • It’s simple. When you have pain, try taping! Although, we strongly suggest seeing a health professional first to make sure you get a proper diagnosis before trying taping as a treatment technique at home.
  • Taping doesn’t always have to be used when you have an injury. For example, if you want to protect your feet or knee from the strain of a long run, taping them prior to the run will reduce the risk of tissue damage and help in your recovery.
  • If your run is on uneven terrain and the risk of spraining an ankle is high, make sure you tape your feet before the run.
  • Do not use taping for the first time during your goal event, make sure you’ve had a few trials with the tape to see how it feels beforehand.

Taping is a skill and once you start using it you won’t look back. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of tape into your running regime. We see many injured runners at the clinic who have found taping to be very beneficial for their recovery. If you have further questions, let us know, we’re here to help! Booking a podiatry appointment online is super easy. In the meantime, run strong, run smart and keep running!

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