Happy Friday! Is everyone ready for the weekend? I definitely am! Now that I’m tapering life is a little quieter. More rest, well-rounded meals and most of all no long runs to plan and look forward to over the weekend. Tomorrow is a quick and easy 12 miler. The rest of the day will be spent studying and relaxing. Michael and I plan to head out on Saturday night for a little date night and to watch the Final Four games. We haven’t been out on a Saturday night in ages! Marathon training definitely puts a damper on your social life…I’ve been sound asleep on the couch by 10pm the last few Saturday nights. I’m looking forward to it for sure!
Many of you have caught on to the fact that I tape my knee for my long runs and marathons and I’ve had a few readers ask questions about it and request a post about it. I was already thinking that I should post on this and here we are! A little background…I over-trained and wore my body out by running too many miles while training for the New York City Marathon in 2009. I ended up having horrible knee pain and could hardly run. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with iliotibial band syndrome or ITBS. I received shots of Synvisc which was basically a concentrated shot of ibuprofen directly into my muscle to help reduce swelling. I was also sent to PT for therapy 2 to 3 times a week. At PT I did lots of strengthening, foam rolling, stretching and heat and ice. I wore a compression brace for the New York City marathon and then over the next year or so strengthened by IT band by stretching and yoga. I then moved to a knee strap which I wear now for my runs. I tape for long runs and races because it’s much more comfortable, light-weight and I can be more specific of where the support goes by how I tape.
Honestly at this point, I’m not entirely sure that I even need a knee brace. I’ve forgotten my brace for runs as long as 6 miles and ran pain-free. One of my goals after Chicago is to cut back on my mileage and try running without a brace or tape to see how it goes. I’d like to move away from the brace and tape if it’s not completely necessary. Anyway, getting back to the taping…
Here’s how I generally go about taping my knee. Keep in mind I tape in an effort to support my IT band and my knee.
Start with a bare leg. Avoid putting on lotions, sunblock, Body Glide or anything like that before taping. You’ll find it won’t stick as well.
I cut my strips before I start applying. My advice is to cut more length than you think you’ll need. My experience is if the strip isn’t long enough, it’s not long enough and you’ll need to cut a new strip. You can’t stretch it to make it work.
Taping is all about the tension on the tape. If you try this I recommend that you cut a piece off and just play with it for a bit. You’ll notice there is a wide range of stretching. I think of it as 0-100% where 0 is no stretch at all and 100% is fully stretched. This relates to how much support your providing your muscle. Stretched at 100% is full support and is not ideal for taping near joints where your muscle will stretch or contract. I start with creating a half-circle around my knee. I go for a little less than 50% stretch and start by attaching one end just below the center of my knee. I use the heel of my palm and rub it for about 10 seconds to generate heat and make sure it sticks well.
I find you must have a lot of patience trying to get the tape to lay in a half-circle. I secure the other end over the center of the top of my knee and rub again. I repeat on the second side. You end up with something like this…
As you can tell, it doesn’t always come out pretty. On this particular day I was really struggling with the tape but it was going under tights and I really just needed it to do its job. At this point I cut a piece of tape that measures around my calf just under my knee. This is where I need the post support as the IT band connects just under your knee cap. When mine is tight it pulls on my knee cap and tendons and gives me pain. I use about 85% stretching when applying the tape around this part. I secure it by starting on the front under the center of my knee. I find that taping so it goes around 1 and half times is the perfect amount of support.
The final step is to cut an 8-10″ strip and tape it from just above my knee-joint along my IT band. I use about a 50-60% stretch for this and add this piece for added support on my IT band.
It takes a little bit of practice to get it just right but once you do it a few times you’ll find that you can tape yourself pretty quickly. I was initially shown how to tape myself by a friend who is a Physical Therapist. I recommend that you have a professional who knows how to do it show you the proper way to tape for your injury. For additional help many of the taping companies provide instructions and videos on their websites for common taping techniques.
The brand I currently use is Rocktape. It costs about $20.00 per roll and with shipping the total is about $25.00. I prefer this over KT tape since I’ve read reviews and heard that unless you buy the clinical tape the other is not as adhesive but on that note I’ve seen many runners using it. The Rocktape is very adhesive and I’ve never had it coming loose during a run. In fact, I’ve left it on after showering post run and it didn’t budge. I really like it in that regard. I never worry about it during my runs. Another more affordable brand I’d like to try is 3B Scientific. I’ll likely be ordering from them as soon as my current roll runs out. Their rolls run about $10 to $12 dollars.
Again, this is just my experience with kinesiology tape and the taping technique that works best for my issues and provides the most support. As always consult with your doctor of physical therapist before giving this a try as it may not be enough support for your injuries or could cause more harm than good. I also recommend being shown the proper way to tape for your injuries by a professional. If you have any questions regarding taping or anything I may have missed leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to do my best to answer them!