How to know if tape can benefit your running

Brodie Sharpe

Tape has been a prominent treatment method for health professionals and runners alike. But with so many different taping methods, different tape brands and differing opinions on effectiveness, how do we know if it is right for running?

Tape to decrease pain for runners

Firstly, tape can be effective at decreasing levels of pain. However, it will depend on the ‘type’ of pain but with the low risk of applying tape, trial and error is always a good option. If you have the correct diagnosis and have an experienced clinician, tape can then be beneficial for common running pain such as patellofemoral pain, shin splints and plantar fascia. Keep in mind though, that this is a short term solution. Do not apply tape for pain reduction beyond 2-3 weeks. If pain continues, then consider long term solutions for example, gait re-training and strengthening.

Does tape change running bio-mechanics?

Do not be tricked into thinking tape will change your bio-mechanics. Yes, pain may reduce, and you may feel more confident when you run, however the true effects of the tape is under contention among professionals. It is possible that it aids in supporting the muscle and can provide better neuromuscular feedback. But a lot of runners feel dis-empowered and overly concerned when they think their bio-mechanics are ‘off’ and need to be fixed with tape.

Tape for patello-femoral knee pain

A consensus statement to treat patello-femoral pain was established in 2017 which states ‘manual therapy including taping can be effective in rehabilitation but only if it is used in combination with exercise rehabilitation‘. This can be considered with several common running injuries and avoids the dis-empowering approach to recovery. I will add, that rigid tape can be left on for 2-3 days provided there is no redness, itchiness or skin irritation. If you are allergic to tape fixomull tape underneath should suffice.

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