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.