Ever since the London Olympics, the world of fitness, and professional sports, has been washed in a splash of neon-colored strips of tape that cling to the bodies of sports enthusiasts. This tape is worn in hopes of achieving pinnacle results even when participating with an injury. This means the tape does more than just adorn the player; it provides support and stability. The tape helps with swelling in some cases and even reduces pain. This raises the question of how to get benefits from taping feet and ankles.
The proper use of tape can lead to extraordinary accomplishments. David Goggins, a former United States Navy SEAL and former United States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party member, and now ultramarathoner, used tape to finish the Badwater pre-requisite ultramarathon. This is a 23-hour event held at Hospitality point in San Diego. Competitors must be able to run over 100 miles. David ran for over 15 hours, and at the 70th mile, David found that both his feet were broken.
With 30 miles to go, David asked to have his feet taped up so they would go on, and he would have support so he could walk the rest of the way. Once his feet were numb, he started back, and even with his wife concerned over his health due to kidney failure, the former Navy SEAL was able to finish after 19 hours and 6 minutes to a total of 101 miles. He was able to accomplish this impressive feat with the proper use of tools.
While this article does not expect the reader to display this level of physical prowess (Goggins was running for a charity and to qualify for the Badwater Ultramarathon), nor do we recommend participating in sports competitions while injured. It is possible to use tape to finish an event while seeking medical attention afterwards.
To be able to play while being injured is one of the main reasons the tape was created in the first place. While it is up to the user as to what type best suits them. It is recommended to seek advice from a medical professional if any doubts should arise.
How to Get Benefits From Taping Feet and Ankles: All About Tapes
There are several types of tape available in the market for an athlete to choose. The myriad of choices can sometimes feel overwhelming, and this article will focus on two for simplicity’s sake. Medical tape and Kinesiology sports tape are not the same thing; no, they do not treat the same issues.
Medical Tape: Adhesive tape or Medical tape first appeared in 1845. Its creation was attributed to Dr. Horace Day, a surgeon who used a combination of fabric strips and a rubber-like adhesive to create a new type of tape he would later call Surgical tape. Its intended use was simple: to immobilize and help support a patient’s injury after surgery.
The tape then evolved and saw different uses in the medical field. Holding together splints for an emergency while transporting someone with a broken bone, holding the gauze in place, and even found itself being included in emergency kits and as part of medical kits for armies around the world.
The only issue with the medical tape was that it was rigid; since its intention was to immobilize a patient and to protect the injury from possible infections from outside contaminants, it did not allow for much movement. Athletes that were treated with the tape found themselves sidelined entirely while their injury was healing. Several would simply forgo the wrapping since it would interfere with their training.
Medical/Surgical Tape Quick Facts:
- The medical tape was created by Dr. Horace Day.
- Originally referred to as Surgical Tape.
- Designed to immobilize and protect a patient’s injury after surgery.
- Made from fabric strips and a rubber-like adhesive.
Kinesiology Tape: During the 1970’s Dr. Kenzo Kase, a Japanese Chiropractor who wished to offer his patients more than just rest and immobilization, started to develop a different tape. This tape would be more flexible while still providing support to an injury. The significant difference was this tape was not designed to be used after surgery nor to treat any emergency.
The idea came to him while treating an athlete that complained about being forced to sit idly by as time grew closer to his event and precious practice time would be wasted. Dr. Kase found that superficial injuries can be treated by addressing the symptoms of discomfort like inflammation and irritation.
Dr. Kase created the Kinesiology tape or K-Tape. Kinesiology tape was made from a combination of cotton fabric and elastic fabric such as nylon. This combination allowed the user to keep their full range of motion and train while still recuperating.
One of the main differences between both was the elasticity and the adhesive. Surgical tape could quickly lose grip when becoming wet. Kinesio tape would have to hold up through intensive training and hold up while becoming wet with the athlete’s perspiration. The adhesive used in K-tape and acrylic adhesive can resist sweat and still stay on. The tape has a reputation for being stubborn to remove and, if not done right, can pull hair and even superficial levels of the skin.
Kinesiology tape became quite famous after the 2012 London Olympics, where athletes would sport the colorful tape. During the Olympics, runners were noted to wear the fabric across their knees and thighs and wrap their feet and ankles.
Kinesiology/K-Tape Quick Facts:
- Created by Dr. Kenzo Kase
- K-tape is a combination of cotton and an elastic fabric
- The adhesive is water resistant
- Used for support and to treat injuries
- Famous for its use during the 2012 Olympics
The use of the tape depends on the injury sustained by the athlete. K-tape is not intended to immobilize, so it might not be best for post-surgery. Medical tape is best for this situation, though once healed and the athlete is ready to return to their sports training, K-Tape can provide support and stability to help heal and provide stability.
How to Get Benefits From Taping Feet and Ankles: Tape up Your Feet
Taping up your feet when beginning your training regime helps heal or prevent injury and brings added benefits. Taping reduces the amount of stress and stretching the ligament performs when running or jogging. This can particularly help prevent tears and sprains. Taping can help recovery by providing support for muscles, tendons, or ligaments around the injury.
The tape provides help to recovery by fighting off irritation and swelling. The constant pressure the tape exerts on the feet helps fight off the accumulation of fluids. The tape can even help with bio-mechanical movements, keeping an athlete’s gait and how they align their feet as they move. In other words, it helps with techniques to prevent injury.
Plantar Fasciitis is a common issue suffered by many athletes. It is present along the bottom of the foot, and when it is inflamed, it can be excruciating. The tape helps reduce the movement and over-stretching of the plantar fascia. It can allow for healing and avoid further injury.
How to Get Benefits From Taping Feet and Ankles: Tape up Your Ankles
Wrapping or taping an ankle can decrease the number of injuries and sprains an athlete can sustain. The tape provides physical support; the constant biofeedback increases proprioception (the body’s awareness of itself and its relationship to its surroundings) so a person is aware of where their feet are landing and avoid changes on the ground that might lead to injury.
The taping of the ankle deals with the discomfort of chronic ankle instability, of the sense of ankle weakness/looseness that occurs while walking or running. This sensation might be the result of several sprains or an overstretched ligament found in the ankle. The combination of therapy and taping can help support and heal the ankle to perform at its peak capability.
All these benefits come from the tape fighting off the swelling that can also occur right after an injury. Taping after recovering from an injury can stabilize the ligament and allow it to heal further.
How to Get Benefits From Taping Feet and Ankles: How to Apply and How to Remove
K-tape is not a simple bandage that is wrapped around and works its magic. K-tape is cut into small strips and a particular pattern over the feet and ankle. There are several resources online to help the person apply the tape. Generally, once the tape pattern is determined and the tape is applied, the adhesive needs warmth to activate. Simply rub the tape with the palm of your hand. The adhesive can last up to five days and is notorious for being difficult to remove.
To remove the tape, prepare warm water and allow the tape to soak, then lather up the area with soap. This should allow the tape to be removed: do so by stripping the tape in the same direction as the body hair grows.