Posts Tagged ‘KT Tape’

The signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis (plan-tur fashee-EYE-tiss) started out mild for me. About 10 weeks into marathon training, my feet started feeling sore after a run. I could run and walk fine, but a couple of hours after a workout they would feel sore in the arches. With rest they’d improve, but it would come back again after a run. Over a few days, the soreness progressed to a mild burning sensation that got worse the longer I stayed on my feet. Eventually after a week or so, I felt the heel pain most commonly associated with plantar fasciitis (PF). Upon waking in the morning, the inner corner of my heel, just below the ankle, felt sore when I walked. It looked like my chances of running the marathon in another 10 weeks were doomed. Continuing to run through PF can cause the plantar fascia to rupture painfully, requiring the wearing of a boot cast for up to six weeks and in some extreme cases, surgery. The good news is I was able to develop a successful treatment plan and after a couple weeks of cross-training, I was able to get back to running and go on to complete my first marathon in 4:02:39 without any PF pain during or after the race.

Please note that I am not a medical professional. I simply share my experience in the hope that it can help another person bounce back from PF. The other thing I want to make clear is that PF is a tricky injury to treat and it can take some experimentation to figure out what works. What worked for me might not work for you. You need to figure out both what the cause of your PF was (more on that in a minute) and which treatments help you.

For immediate pain relief:

1. Ice. Use an ice pack (frozen peas or corn works well because the packet molds to the foot) with a thin towel to protect the skin, and ice the foot for 15 minutes at a time a few times a day as needed. Just be careful and make sure to warm up the foot again and then do a gentle stretch of the foot (grabbing the toes and gently drawing them back toward you) before walking again. You can also freeze a plastic water bottle in the freezer (leaving room at the top for the ice to expand) and roll your foot on the frozen bottle. That does the double duty of icing and massaging at the same time.

2. Anti-inflammatory medications. There is debate about whether PF involves any inflammation at all (the pain stems from micro-tears in the connective tissue that runs from the heel to the toes) but there’s no doubt that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen help relieve the pain of PF. Personally I don’t think drugs like Advil treat the PF, they just mask the pain. That’s fine if you’re in a lot of pain but I quickly decided the meds were not necessary.

For further injury prevention:

3. Determine what caused your PF and take steps to mitigate further damage. For some people the key to what caused their PF is clear. It can come on from being overweight or from repetitive strain due to running or other athletic pursuits. Think about what recently changed for you. Have you added something new to your workouts? (For me the culprit was tight calves from running and the introduction of training on the indoor spinning bike. Standing up on the pedals repeatedly stretched and strained the ligament that runs under the foot.) Has it been too long since you bought new athletic shoes?

4. Switch to cross-training. If you want to stay active to lose weight or continue a running training plan without actually running, consider cross-training activities such as cycling, swimming, and aqua-jogging. I found that while spinning on an indoor bike aggravated my feet, I could cycle on my road bike without problems.

To treat the PF:

5. Do stretches for the feet and calves. Before you get out of bed in the morning (and a few other times throughout the day), do a toe stretch by gently pulling back on your toes. Perform a towel stretch by looping a bath towel under the ball of your foot and gently pulling the towel ends back toward you. For the ball stretch, roll a tennis or golf ball under your foot for up to half an hour a day (I know that sounds like a lot but it’s what’s billed as a “magic cure” for PF in Running Doc’s Guide to Healthy Running: How to Fix Injuries, Stay Active, and Run Pain-Free). Most important for the treatment of PF and prevention of it in the first place (in my opinion), are calf stretches. I don’t mean just stretching your calves after you run. This is so important I’m going to say it in bold: You need to do calf stretches several times a day throughout the day. First do the gastroc stretch, which involves leaning into a wall with your arms outstretched and the affected leg straight back behind you with the heel on the floor (the Running Doc says to turn the foot slightly outward). Lean in and feel the stretch in the upper calf. Do that for 20 seconds, then slightly bend the knee of the affected leg to perform the soleus stretch to stretch the lower calf for another 20 seconds. Alternate those stretches several times. One more note on stretches. I saw lots of recommendations for Achilles tendon stretches (standing on the edge of a stair step and lowering the heels, then raising the heels, and repeating). That absolutely aggravated the PF for me. Here’s a video I found on YouTube that demonstrates three appropriate stretches and then explains why that Achilles tendon stretch is inappropriate (he calls it the Negative Heel Stretch):

Gear that helps:

6. Wear a Strassburg sock or other device. The idea behind the Strassburg Sock is that you wear this sock at night while you sleep to stretch the plantar fascia.

Normally while you sleep the plantar fascia contracts and then when you wake up and stand up, the tight plantar fascia lengthens suddenly and that causes pain. I found that wearing the sock prevents that problem, and I do recommend purchasing the sock. It provided immediate relief of the sharp heel pain I had felt in the mornings. For a less expensive option, follow these directions to make your own no-sew plantar fasciitis sock.

7. Use KT Tape Pro. Without a doubt the one thing that allowed me to keep running as I recovered from PF is KT Tape Pro. Please make sure that you buy KT TAPE PRO rather than the older cotton version which does not stay on as long. If I followed the directions to apply the KT Tape Pro properly, it would stay on for 5 or more days (or until I soaked in a bath or went swimming. It stays on during short showers but I found it could not stand a long soak). The pre-cut kinesiology tape strips are expensive and you want to make them last. Many people apply two strips for the PF application (as directed on the package insert) but I went with three as demonstrated in the KT Tape website:

8. Consider orthotic insoles. Many people swear by insoles such as Superfeet Green Premium Insoles or professional orthotics from a podiatrist. Others argue that such insoles are a crutch that does not really fix the problem in the long term. (Personally I think it’s important for a runner like me to be able to get back into running ASAP and then work on the stretches and strengthening exercises and only then consider running in a more minimalist shoe or even barefoot). Because I had success with the Strassburg Sock and the KT Tape Pro, I never bought insoles so I cannot speak to this one way or the other. (Anyone care to comment?)

Another healing and preventative tip:

9. Do strengthening exercises for the plantar fascia ligament. Once you have reduced the pain of PF you can begin doing strengthening exercises. These include drawing the alphabet on the floor with your toes, picking up marbles with your toes, and scrunching up the end of a towel (pulling in the length of the towel toward you with your toes).

I wish you all the best in healing from plantar fasciitis!

What has your experience with plantar fasciitis been? Do you have any tips for recovering from plantar fasciitis?

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As I navigate the treacherous waters of plantar fasciitis, I try different remedies to see what helps and doesn’t help. It seems to me that plantar fasciitis is a slippery little sucker, and what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. Strassburg sock? Helps. Icing? Helps with pain relief but does not seem to help overall recovery (seems to me that ice tightens up the foot and is counterproductive to all the stretching if you try to walk on it again without warming up and then stretching a little more). Stretching? Helps, especially before I get out of bed in the morning, but if I get too aggressive with the stretching, doing the one everyone seems to recommend (standing on the edge of the stairs and lowering one or both heels), it sets me back. Foam roller for my calves? Helps. Rolling my foot on a tennis ball? Helps. Doing exercises like tracing the alphabet with my toes, or picking up marbles or other small objects? Helps my foot but nearly kills my will to recover. I can barely stand to do those exercises. They’re not painful, they’re just extremely boring and tiring. It’s a little like Kegels (you know what I mean ladies).

KT Tape Pro is the latest remedy I’ve tried. I put it on Tuesday morning and have been wearing it for three full days.

KT Tape

My right foot as KT Tape art sculpture

In that time I did two runs, a speed workout and a tempo run. I must have been delusional, hoping the KT Tape would be a miraculous cure-all. In retrospect the speed workout was a bad idea. The tempo run was fine — a mile easy and five miles at marathon pace. (Side note: when I told my husband about my tempo run at marathon pace, he thought I said, “marathon face.” He thought I was going a little overboard with the marathon obsession if I felt the need to perfect a marathon face. I’m not sure what that would even look like – smiling, grimacing?!) At this point the jury is still out on KT Tape. Let’s see how I feel after the big 18-miler on Saturday.

In the meantime, I continue to distract myself with thoughts of what I should wear for the marathon WHEN I RUN IT. Might as well think positively. For today’s run, I gave in to all the commenters who said it’s no big deal to wear a prior race shirt to run a different race, especially since no one but you cares what you’re wearing. I tried out my beloved OC Half Marathon tee, which is very nearly the perfect technical shirt.

Fitted but not too clingy, light colored, flattering design

I concluded it would be perfect if it just had a v-neck instead of a scoop neck. Ever since my thyroid pooped out on me (Graves’ Disease, burn out, hypothyroidism, long story I’ll tell you sometime), I cannot stand to have anything touch my throat. If you ever see me in a turtleneck, run for the hills because my body will be possessed by alien forces. In fact, be on your best behavior and put on your own turtleneck just in case because hell will surely be freezing over.

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Disclaimer #1: I am not a fashionista. Nor am I a running “fastinista.” My three kids have more style in their little pinkies than I have in my whole body. Disclaimer #2: My seven-year-old took all the photos in this post. She’s won an award for her photography in the PTA Reflections program, but I’m still blaming her for any imperfections (sorry sweetie, it’s your fault that my ribs stick out and compete with my 34Bs).

Yesterday after school I took the girls with me to Sports Authority to buy KT Tape Pro. I wanted the blue tape, not because “blue” stands for depression about plantar fasciitis, but because blue stands for “blue streak” — something moving very fast. 🙂 There were plenty of rolls of bright yellow (also very cool) but I snagged the last roll of “Laser Blue.” Good omen? You tell me.

Ever the optimist, while I was at the store I shopped for potential technical shirts to wear at the marathon on November 10. I’m looking for something light-colored and close-fitting. It’s got to be short-sleeved rather than a tank top, to avoid any chafing issues. My favorite technical shirt is my short-sleeve “marathon tee” from the OC Half Marathon, produced by Greenlight Apparel. Unfortunately I think that it would be a bit of a faux pas to wear a half marathon branded race tee at a different brand marathon race, so I looked online to see if I could buy a plain Greenlight Apparel tee. I didn’t see exactly the same style.

At the store I happened upon this Under Armour shirt, on clearance for $16.98 from $22.99. It goes nicely with my Under Armour compression shorts. I swear it’s a coincidence that the color matches the KT Tape exactly. See disclaimer #1. I’m not that matchy-matchy.

Me and the KT Tape

I loved this shirt in part because it was an extra-small. I didn’t realize extra-small meant “shows every rib and belly paunch from your compression shorts.”

My kids begged me to buy it, which I did, along with several packets of green apple PowerGel and vanilla Clif Shots and Honey Stinger Waffles. So far the PowerGels with caffeine are the clear winners, and the regular Clif shots (offered on the marathon course) are second place. I’ve never tried Honey Stinger Waffles and I’m curious.

My 10-year-old got some new running shoes while we were at Sports Authority. Can I just mourn a little bit that she now wears a 6.5 in women’s shoes, and that means we pay twice as much for her shoes as we paid when she was a “girl” size?

We couldn’t find any shoes for my 7-year-old (who now wears a size 2, sob) so we headed off to Sears. We found two pairs of shoes there for the price of my 10-year-old’s one pair, and threw in an even cheaper pair for my four-year-old. While we were there, I took a quick pass through the sportswear and came out with these Everlast beauties for $7.99 each, on sale from $24 each. I’ll need to test them out on a run, but I think they’re pretty cute with the indented seams on each side, much like my beloved OC Half Marathon tee from Greenlight Apparel. My kids had a clear favorite. Here’s the light blue:

Everlast technical tee

The light blue Everlast technical tee

and the pink:

Everlast pink technical tee

Everlast technical tee in pink

What do you think (Under Armour blue, Everlast light blue, Everlast pink)? My kids liked the pink. How do you choose what to wear on race day? How far in advance do you plan your race day outfit?

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