Treat Exercise Injuries at Home

Therapeutic taping techniques that help prevent and heal almost any injury.

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Have an ache or pain that won’t go away? Or a twinge that’s threatening to flare into an activity-ending injury? Ask your doctor about treating yourself with kinesiology therapeutic tape, says Ted Forcum, DC, CSCS, a Beaverton, Oregon-based chiropractor and the 2008 Beijing Olympics sports medicine team member who treated athletes with these distinctive multi-colored strips. Although this tape has been used by chiropractors, physical therapists and athletic trainers for decades, a company called KT Tape is selling it directly to consumers for the first time.

How it works is a big question mark, says Forcum, but it appears to function completely differently from the rigid, white tape you're probably used to. Traditional athletic tape is designed to compress and restrict range of motion, which proponents believe will protect an injury from further harm and prevent any current inflammation from ballooning.  Kinesiology therapeutic tape, on the other hand, has the same elasticity as human skin, so it doesn’t restrict motion. Experts believe the increased circulation and support allows damaged muscles, tendons and tissue to rest and heal naturally despite continued activity. Best of all, the tape is simple to apply and, because it's breathable, can be worn in water and for up to five days at a time.

KT Tape

For the best results, follow these general directions and then read on to find out how to tape 12 of the most common running injuries.

1. Clean the application area with rubbing alcohol an hour before exercise.

2. Apply the tape at least 30 minutes before exercise.

3. To turn an "I" strip (the default shape and length of the precut pieces of tape) into a "Y" strip, simply pull the tape apart along the perforated line.

4. Only remove the paper backing as needed to avoid touching the sticky side of the tape.

5. Never stretch the last 1.5 inches of tape and always apply tape directly to skin—not over other pieces of tape.

KT Tape

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

1.    On a flat surface, bring leg to a 120-degree angle and tilt inward to stretch IT band.

 

2.    Anchor “I” strip without stretch on the outside of the thigh. Apply tape with medium stretch over the point of pain, which should be just outside the kneecap. Place the other end down without stretch.

 

3.    Cut a second strip in half creating two 5-inch “I” strips. Taking the first 5-inch piece, fully stretch the middle section of the tape over the outside of the kneecap, making sure to apply the ends (with no stretch) directly to skin, not on top of the other piece of tape.  

 

4.    Take the second 5-inch strip and fully stretch the middle section of the tape diagonally to form an “X” over the point of pain. Again, make sure to apply the ends (with no stretch) directly to skin, not over previous pieces of tape.

 

5.    Rub the tape with a piece of the paper backing to activate adhesive.

KT Tape

Achilles Tendon Pain

1.    Anchor an “I” strip on the bottom heel.

2.    Flex foot forward to stretch the Achilles tendon. Without stretching the tape, lay an “I” strip down over tendon.

3.    Fully stretch the middle section of an “I” strip and apply around the heel.

4.    With no stretch on the tape, apply remaining ends of “I” strip.
 
5.    Rub the tape with a piece of the paper backing to activate adhesive.

KT Tape

Hamstring Strain

1.    With the hamstring on a stretch, anchor a “Y” strip below the point of pain and apply the arms of the “Y” strip on either side of the point of pain without stretching the tape.  

2.    For additional support add a second “Y” strip as follows: Continue stretching the hamstring, anchor a “Y” strip to the inside of the leg and apply arms of “Y” strip above and below the area of pain with medium stretch on the tape.

3.    Rub the tape with a piece of the paper backing to activate adhesive.

KT Tape

Plantar Fasciitis

1.    Flex the ankle up and anchor “I” strip on the ball of the foot.

2.    Fully stretch the tape until reaching the back of the heel. Apply the remainder of the “I” strip without stretching the tape.

3.    Anchor a second “I” strip over the point of pain.

4.    At the instep of the foot, fully stretch the tape and apply over the ankle and leg.

5.    Rub the tape with a piece of the paper backing to activate adhesive.

KT Tape

Runner's Knee

1.    With straight leg, fully stretch the middle section of an “I” strip and apply across bottom of kneecap.

2.    Raise the leg to a 90-degree angle. Continue stretching tape while cradling and gently lifting the kneecap as shown.

3.    Without stretching the tape, apply the ends of the tape around the sides of the knee and up the leg.

4.    For added support, a second “Y” strip can be applied. Bring knee to a 90-degree position. Anchor a “Y” strip on side of the knee. While fully stretching the tape, apply the legs of strip above and below the kneecap.

5.    Rub the tape with a piece of the paper backing to activate adhesive.

KT Tape

Shin Splints (Posterior)

1.    Anchor a “Y” strip two to three inches below the point of pain. Fully stretch the legs around the site of pain, applying the ends with no tension.

2.    Anchor a second “Y” strip on the back of the leg lateral to the point of pain. Fully stretch the legs around the site of pain, easing the tension off until you apply the ends with no tension up the front of the leg.

3.    Rub the tape with a piece of the paper backing to activate adhesive.

KT Tape

Shin Splints (Anterior)

1.    Sit with the affected leg straight, toes pointed down and inward.

2.    Anchor a “Y” strip three to four inches below the point of pain. Bend the tails of the tape around the site of pain with mild tension. Apply the ends with no tension.

3.    Anchor a second “Y” strip lateral to the point of pain toward the back of the calf. Fully stretch the tails around the point of pain, easing the tension off until you apply the ends with no tension up the back of the calf.

4.    Rub the tape with a piece of the paper backing to activate adhesive.

KT Tape

Foot Pad Pain

1.    Fully stretch an “I” strip across the bottom of the foot just under the toes. Easing the tension off, wrap the tape around the sides of the foot. Apply ends across top of foot with no tension.

2.    Rub the tape with a piece of the paper backing to activate adhesive.

KT Tape

Hip Flexor Pain

1.    Kneel in a lunge the knee of the affected leg resting on the floor. Make sure your back is flat and butt is tucked under so you feel a stretch through the affected hip flexor.  

2.    Anchor a “Y” strip about two to three inches below the point of pain. Without tension, apply legs of the tape around the point of pain.

3.    Anchor a second “Y” strip on the inside of the thigh close to the point of pain. Moderately stretch the legs of the tape around the point of pain. Lay the ends down without tension.

4.    Rub the tape with a piece of the paper backing to activate adhesive.

*Note: This should be done on the skin and not over clothing.

KT Tape

Quad Strain

1.    Place the quad on a stretch and anchor a “Y” strip below the area of pain. Apply arms of “Y” strip along each side of the affected muscle with no stretch on the tape.

2.    For additional support, anchor a “Y” strip on the outside of the leg and apply arms of “Y” strip above and below the area of pain with medium stretch on the tape.

3.    Rub the tape with a piece of the paper backing to activate adhesive.

KT Tape

Calf Strain

1.     Standing, step target leg back, so the heel touches the floor and the knee is in full extension and the calf is in full stretch.

2.    Anchor “I” strip below the point of pain. Apply the rest of the strip with no stretch straight up the back of the calf.

3.    Tear a second piece of tape at the perforated center, creating a “Y” strip, and place anchor just below the first anchor.

4.    Without stretching the tape, apply the tails of the tape around the point of pain.

5.    Rub the tape with a piece of the paper backing to activate adhesive.

KT Tape

Low Back Pain

1.    While bending forward at the waist, fully stretch the middle section of an “I” strip and apply over the point of pain as shown.

2.    Fully stretch a second “I” strip perpendicularly across the first, forming a plus sign.

3.    Fully stretch a third and fourth “I” strip diagonally across the first two, forming an “X.”

4.    Rub the tape with a piece of the paper backing to activate adhesive.

To watch video instructions for these, and a variety of other injuries, visit kttape.com.

Next: Exercise Aches You Should Never Ignore

KT Tape
First Published January 13, 2011

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