Last month I provided foot care at the Jungle Marathon Amazon. In preparation for the trip, I searched for new tapes. One of my searches turned up Theratape.com, a web-based store that specializes in kinesiology tapes and supplies. The website is a wealth of information on kinesiology tapes and kinesiology in general.
I emailed the owner, and received answers to all my questions regarding different brands of kinesiology tape. They carry many to choose from: Kinesio Tape, Nasara, PerformTex, RockTape, SpiderTech, and StrengthTape. Another brand is KT Tape. That’s seven brands to choose from.
Because I was going to the Amazon, where I knew feet would be wet, tape adherence was a major factor. The Theratape staff told me that the two best adhering tapes for wet condition were RockTape H20 and StrengthTape.
Three weeks before the Amazon, I tried a roll of each tape. On one foot I used a strip of StrengthTape, and another of Kinesio Tex Tape (my old standard). On the other foot I used a strip of RockTape H20 and another of LevoTape (a brand from the U.K.). I had one strip on the mid-foot, side-to-side, and another strip on the forefoot behind the toes. I did not use Compound Tincture of Benzoin as a tape adherent. The LevoTape came off on day four and the Kinesio Tex on day five. Finally on day six I removed the Rocktape H20 and the StrengthTape. Of the final two, the StrengthTape still had some stickiness left. It became my first choice of the kinesiology tapes. I promptly ordered one of the bulk rolls. Service from Theratape.com was great.
Here is the StrengthTape description from the theratape website: StrengthTape by LifeStrength begins with all the features of a high quality kinesiology tape, but is then “supercharged” with the addition of advanced ionic technology. Seven different minerals and gemstones are crushed into microscopic particles and infused into the tape. The natural properties of these substances create a negatively charged material that emits anions or negative ions. When applied to the skin, these negatively charged particles are readily absorbed into the body, enhancing the pain relieving and healing properties of the tape. Its 10% greater elasticity provides additional support for injuries and snap-back for performance enhancement. The proprietary AllSport extra-strong adhesive provides superior sticking power in all conditions, including water when properly applied, most applications will provide pain relief, comfort and support for 3-7 days. Uncut rolls are16’ in length and two inches in width, while each 16′ pre-cut roll contains twenty 10″ strips.
For those familiar with RockTape, I did try the RockTape H20. On the website, RockTape H2O is described as, the ultimate kinesiology tape for water sports. With an adhesive twice as strong as regular RockTape, H2O has undergone rigorous testing in the wild waters of the Pacific. H2O is a great tape for swimmers, triathletes, and other water sports participants. RockTape H20’s other features include a tighter weave and greater elasticity than other kinesiology tapes. It stays on longer and provides enhanced support, even under the toughest conditions.
In the Amazon, I used Leukotape, RockTape H20, StrengthTape, and Hypafix for between the toes. To start with, I used the StrengthTape and Rocktape equally, sometimes both on one runner. I wanted the feedback.
We had the advantage of applying the tapes in the late afternoon and evening, which allows the tape’s adhesive time to bond with the skin. After applying the tape a short 20-30 second rub was done to warm the adhesive and activate the adhesive.
Several things are important when using kinesiology tapes. Lay the tape on the skin and if you have to stretch the tape around a heel or toe, only apply a slight stretch. The more stretch you apply, the more likely the tape is to come loose, especially in wet conditions. Secondly, whenever possible, apply the tape the night before it is needed. At Badwater we try and tape the night before the race to give it good bonding time. At a minimum, try to apply it an hour before activity for the tape to set.
StrengthTape was the winner. Several days in to the Jungle Marathon, runners were asking for the “blue” tape (my blue StrengthTape). On some runners, the tape did not hold – but in fact no tape held up well when the runners walked around on the sand and dirt in bare feet or skimpy homemade flip-flops. The combination of the wet conditions when they finished the day’s stage followed by dirt and sand constantly worked away at the edges of the tape. That’s why we re-taped most afternoons and evenings.
We taped a lot of toes with StrengthTape, as you can see from these pictures. The runners would come into camp after finishing their stage and tell me how the tape had held up – or not. Sometimes the sand was simply too abrasive and it rubbed against the tape, working it’s way under the edges. I’d apply a light strip of Benzoin along the edge of the tape and the skin to help the edges hold better. This helped a lot.
In wet conditions, the race medical team from past years found that Injinji socks were better than other socks for blister control. Many runners wore Injinji socks. For these runners, the little toe socks of the Injinji’s was perfect to help hold the StrengthTape in place. One runner completed the race in Vibram FiveFinger Lontras, which also help hold the tape in place. To read my blog post about the survey and what worked, click on the link: A Survey About Feet From The 2012 Amazon Jungle Marathon.
In my tests, I found the RockTape H20 had good adherence, but frayed around the edges. Applying a strip of Benzoin on the edge of the tape and skin can help control the fraying.
I will be using StrengthTape at the races where I provide foot care. My stash of other brands of kinesiology tapes will be used as I learn about using the tape for its intended purpose of kinesiology.
If you are interested in ordering StrengthTape or RockTape H20, I recommend checking Theratape.com. They have generously offered a 15% discount on anyone’s first order of StrengthTape or RockTape – just use the code “fixyourfeet” in the discount code box on the order page. The discount code is good for any of the two tapes, tape size and quantity. The tapes come in a variety of colors. I welcome your feedback when you use the tape.
Disclaimer: Kinesiology is the study of human movement. The benefits of kinesiology tape include relief of pain and swelling, relaxation of overused or tight muscles, activation of weak or poorly-toned muscles, and enhancement of athletic performance. Made from cotton with a hypoallergenic acrylic adhesive, kinesiology tape is designed to be worn for 3-5 days, providing therapeutic benefits 24/7, the entire time it is worn. I apply kinesiology tape to feet because of its ability to stretch and shape to the curves of the foot, in addition to its smooth surface, adhesive, breathability and lack of leaving tape residue on the skin. If you watch the Olympics, you have probably seen kinesiology tape on athletes’ shoulders, arms and legs, and more.