If you have followed my blog long enough, you’ll know I have a preference for kinesiology tapes for protective taping before a race and patching blisters during a race.
Over the years I have used many different types of tape – most of which I no longer use. The one tape that has stood the test of time is the kinesiology tape. There are several to choose from including Kinesio Tex, Rock Tape, StrengthTape, and others. Since Kinesio Tex is a trademarked name of a brand of kinesiology tape, we should not use the term Kinesio tape when talking about a different brand than Kinesio Tex. For example, Rock Tape is a kinesiology tape, not Kinesio Rock Tape.
Last year I provided foot care at the Jungle Marathon Amazon and took Leukotape, Rock Tape H20 and StrengthTape. In the end, I stopped using the Leukotape because of the tape residue it left on the skin.
Here’s how I judge tapes:
- I don’t want tape residue on the skin when the tape is removed or comes off
- I don’t want a tape that is coarse
- I don’t want a tape that is thick
- I want a tape with superior adhesive
- I want a tape that will hold in wet conditions
- I want a tape that will conform (at least somewhat) to the shape and curves of the foot and toes
- I want a tape that does not lose it sticking ability or workability in cold or hot conditions
- I want a tape that can be used on all parts of the foot
- I want a tape that is as smooth as possible
The benefits of kinesiology tapes are their stretchiness in length, softness, and smoothness, which allows them to be molded to the shape and curves of the foot and toes. In the image here you can see how the tape has molded to the toes and space between the toes. Imagine trying to patch a blister at the base of the large toe. Most tapes will fail at this because of their inflexibility or thickness, meaning they cannot mold around the toe into the fold at the base of the toe and onto the toe and ball of the foot. Kinesiology tape can do this with no creases or overlaps in the tape.
My favorite kinesiology tapes are Rock Tape H20 and StrengthTape. Both have excellent adhesive stickiness, even in wet conditions. The best application tip for kinesiology tape is to apply it the evening or night before your race. Use a tape adherent and after applying the tape to the skin, rub it for 15-20 seconds to warm the adhesive so it will stick better. Then put on the socks you’ll wear the next day. I have used these tapes in the Amazon Jungle and they stick better than others. Certainly the grit of the sand and dirt in the jungle will compromise the long term stickiness of the tape, but I still think it’s the best tape for wet conditions when a tape adherent is used and the tape is applied correctly and ahead of time.
A helpful website that offers a lot of information about kinesiology tapes and their uses is TheraTape.com. It’s where I get my tapes. In addition to selling most brands of kinesiology tape, the site has information about the kinesiology tapes, brand information, application instructions, and videos. TheraTape provides tapes in single rolls and bulk rolls and in a variety of colors, as well as educational materials if you want to learn more about using the tape. StrengthTape is also sold by ZombieRunner.
Please understand that kinesiology tapes are designed to provide healing benefits to athletes when injured and with inflammatory conditions. The videos do not show patching feet or taping for blisters since that is not what the tape makers promote. Here is a link to learn about kinesiology tape.
TheraTape just released a comparison chart of kinesiology tapes. I have included the chart below, split into two images. Click on each image for a larger view. Here’s the link for the kinesiology tape comparison chart if you want to go directly to the website to see the chart.You can order StrengthTape or Rock Tape H20 or another other kinesiology tape from TheraTape.com or StrengthTape from the ZombieRunner link above.
Connect directly to StrengthTape and Rocktape
- StrengthTape.com has a number of informational videos on their website and is a good way to connect with the company.
- RockTape.com also has a website with lots of good information and videos.
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footcare
Over my years of taping feet, I have seen techniques improve to where pre-taping is more helpful then ever before.
Often times, in the middle of a race, one cannot take the time necessary to do a high-quality tape job. Things may be rushed. The runner may be in a huge hurry to make a cut-off. The feet and skin may be wet. Conditions may be less than ideal – lightening, set-up, workable access/angle to the feet, supplies, etc.
However, before a race, a hike, or run, there is more time to do a high quality pre-tape job. It’s also the time to practice your skills and learn how to do a really good tape job. The first photo here shows a pretty poor tape job on toes. In this photo, the tape will probably peel off from sock changes and general wear. If any one of the pieces comes off, the now untapped toe will be subject to the roughness of the tape on the neighboring toe. It looks like Leukotape, which sticks well, but does not conform to the curves of toes and other places on the foot. It is possible to do a great tape job on toes with Leukotape – but it take time and practice. I must admit I like Leukotape for certain conditions and tape jobs.
A good, high-quality pre-tape job should hold up well, for several days if necessary, and cared for. In this next photo, you can see the right foot of Bogie Dumitrescu after finishing a solo, self-supported crossing of Death Valley followed by up and down to Mt Whitney. You can see how the tape has held for 157 miles in the extremes of Death Valley. It’s hot on the valley floor, but there are two long uphill’s climbs followed by long downhill’s over two passes. An 11-mile trail hike follows that up to and another 11 back down Whitney. The tape job held for 157 miles! In fact it looks perfect.
The tape is Kenesio-Tex on the heels, balls of the feet and big toes. Hypafix tape is used in a figure eight cut to anchor the tape at the forward edge of the ball of the foot, between the toes, and anchored again on top of the foot. This prevents the forward edge of the tape from rolling.
The next photo shows Bogie’s two feet after the tape was removed. No blisters. One of the reasons the tape held is that Bogie managed his feet well. He kept them as dry as possible. This is important in Death Valley where often Badwater runners get their feet wet when they are sprayed or doused with water in an effort to cool them.
Bogie was fortunate to have his feet taped by Denise Jones, the Badwater Blister Queen. Denise is a master at taping feet and does a precision tape job. This is not a 30-minute tape job. It takes as long as it takes to do it right. Denise and I tape almost identically. If we apply a piece of tape and it looks or feels wrong, we remove it and retape. Our aim is to get the runners on the course and able to finish with good feet.
The point of this blog post is to show a good tape job that can hold up over multiple days. The final photo shows Danny Westergaard’s feet that Denise taped for Badwater three weeks ago. Danny’s feet are taped perfectly. You can see the small strip of Hypafix that Denise wrapped around Danny’s big toes to further secure the tape edges.
I commend Bogie and Danny for their runs. Bogie completed his solo self-supported Badwater crossing the week before the official Badwater ultramarathon. Danny completed his 7th Badwater, went to the summit of Whitney and then reversed direction and went back to the start for his 7th Badwater Double.
And I commend Denise Jones for her care of runner’s feet. She’s a class act. Thanks Denise.
Kinesio, Leukotape and Hypafix tapes, as well as Compound Tincture of Benzoin and other foot care supplies are available at Zombierunner.com.
Disclosure: When you purchase through this link, I make an affiliate small amount of each sale.
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear Products
What better time of the year to pamper your feet than Christmas. Our feet are encased in heavy socks and footwear. We take them for granted. Here’s a look at my favorite things for your feet this year. My suggestion is to check out these items at Zombierunner.com. Don and Gillian support athletes with great service. You can click on their link and at their website, click on Foot Care or any other items. Zombierunner has everyone of these items, except a callus file.
Engo Footwear Patches – these slick patches go in your shoes to reduce friction. A must for any foot care first aid kit.
Drymax Socks – my favorite socks that hate moisture. Their micro-fiber technology is a sweat removal system to keep your feet dry.
Injinji Socks – the original toesocks that are perfect for many sports, and a must for those who are prone to toe blisters.
Sportslick Lubricant - Prevents blisters, chafing and skin rash during sporting activities. This skin care product also cures jock itch, athlete’s foot, and other skin conditions.
Stuffitts Portable Drying Solutions – for shoes, gloves, helmets to defeat wet and stinky gear. Their soft, lightweight forms combat moisture and kills odor in personal wearable gear.
BlisterShield Powder – a great powder, especially for those who prefer powder over a lubricant.
Kinesio Tex Tape – a great tape that breathes and conforms to the shape of any part of your feet. 1, 2, and 3 inch widths.
Leukotape – one of the stickiest tapes available. 1 ½ inches wide.
Superfeet Insoles – one of the best insoles for support. They are available in a number of options.
Toenail Clippers – everyone needs a good clipper to tame their toenails.
Callus File – a callus build-up can lead to problems that can result in blisters underneath this hard layer of skin.
Natural Running – this is a great book that teaches you to run the way nature intended, mimicking the healthy, efficient barefoot style you were born with, while keeping feet safe from rough modern surfaces.
Fixing Your Feet, 5th edition – my best-selling book that covers all aspects of footwear and foot care.
Here’s the Amazon link for the Fixing Your Feet print edition.
Here’s the Amazon link for a Fixing Your Feet Kindle edition.
I hope you’ll consider one or more of these as gifts either to yourself or a friend.
Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of Zombierunner and make a few pennies when you buy through my link.
When Geoff Baker sent me a few photos of feet, which he took at this year’s Barkley, I found two jewels. The composition of Brett Maune’s feet in the two photos after winning the race is great.
The first photo shows Brett removing tape from his feet. The condition of his feet and legs is rough. Note the light skin on the heel where he’s removing tape. Another light strip of skin is shown on the bottom of the big toe. A strip of tape is still evident on the inside of the right foot.
The second photo is a great example that Brett knows his feet well. All the light spots on the bottom and sides of the feet are places where he applied Leukotape. He knew where his feet were vulnerable and he applied just enough tape to protect the skin and tissue in those areas. From all appearances, it worked.
Years ago, a good friend and renown ultrarunner, Dick Collins, told me to never put anything on or around your feet that was un-necessary. His theory, that I support, is that anything that adds bulk can be bad.
That’s why I frown on using moleskin, gauze and soft foam with cutouts over blisters. They all add bulk. When the runner takes off after the patching, his feet feel tight in his shoes because of the added “stuff” in the shoe. This often adds even more pressure on the blistered area, making it more uncomfortable that before. This can easily change the runners gait and this affect continues up the leg to the knee, the hip and the spine.
I commend Brett for winning the Barkley and for knowing how to care for his feet. We can learn from Brett. In short, pre-tape where you need it.
To view a photo montage of images from Barkley, check out The Barkley: Bad Things Happen.
Here is Geoff’s contact information: Geoffrey Baker Photography.
Today I worked the medical aid station at mile 20 of the Oakland Marathon. Saturday I restocked my foot care box, adding supplies that I had depleted during the past events. I also cleaned up my Baggies of patches, and other small items.
One of the things I noticed I was short was tape. I added a roll of Leukotape and some Kinesio Tex. The Leukotape was out of a box off my shelf. I knew it had been on the shelf for while, but was unsure how long.
A short time into the race, I had several runners come in for some taping over hot spots. I cleaned the skin with an alcohol wipe, assessed the problem, and peeled off a bit of Leukotape. The first strip stuck okay. But after that, I could tell the tape did not have its usual stickiness.
I unrolled more and more, but the tape was bad. It would not stick.
Thinking about it, I think the tape was several years old. Maybe even three years. I am pretty good about checking my tapes – but this one slipped by me. So my advice is to check all your tapes before a race.
I have made an observation when taping feet and seeing athletes’ injured feet – and this affects the way I tape.
I like smooth. It reduces friction. Some tapes are smoother than others. Duct tape is smooth but does not breathe or conform to the curves of the foot. Elastikon is coarse as well as thick. Kinesio Tex, Leukotape and Endurotape are smooth.
Allow me to paint you a picture of why tape smoothness matters.
Picture the following: your skin’s outer layer typically moves against the inner layers. Then you apply a non-smooth tape to the skin, pull on a sock, and finally put your foot inside a shoe. The tape sticks to the skin. As you run, the foot naturally moves a bit inside your shoes. However, the sock cannot move freely against the coarseness of the tape. This forces the tape to move with the sock, which stresses the outer later of skin against the inner layers. The result is very sore feet. Others may not agree, but I have seen too many runners with sore feet, many at the point of not being able to run any more, and the common denominator has been non-smooth tape.
A story will illustrate this.
One year at Badwater I removed tape from the bottoms of a runner’s feet and repatched them. He had run 90 miles and had another 40 to go. Over and over he told me, “My feet hurt. I can’t run. I can’t walk.” The balls of each foot were hurting him so badly that he wanted to quit. As I carefully removed the Elastikon tape I discovered he had a small hard-cored callus on the ball of each foot. I put a small Spenco gel patch over the hard core of each callus and used two 2-inch strips of Kinesio Tex tape across the ball of the foot – from the toe crease to mid-foot. He went on to buckle. The smooth Kinesio Tex tape worked where the Elastikon did not. That said, I still think Elastikon is a good tape for some runners’ feet. I just happen to like Kinesio Tex more. For the record, I also carry Leukotape.
The above image is not of that runner’s foot. However it shows a strip of Kinesio Tex tape on the ball of a foot and two anchor strips of Hypafix between the toes. These anchor the forward edge of the ball of the foot tape which prevents it from rolling.
This same theory can be applied to insoles. We’ll talk about that later. In the meantime, if you need tapes, check out Zombierunner.com. They carry all the popular tapes.