rocktape shin splints

Kinesio Tape as Part of Running Rehab

A recent article in Runners World on Kiniesiology tape preventing spots injuries has been causing a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. This is quite frankly tiring. In this post I’m going to go through why I think it’s tiring and why we need to think differently about this.

The recent article in Runners World (RW) titled ”How to Use KT Tape to Deal With the Most Common Running Injuries”. It expands on the heading to say how kinesiology tape can stop five conditions from derailing your run. The conditions listed are IT band syndrome, hamstring strains, shin splints, runner’s knee, and plantar fasciitis.

Derailing you run. What could this mean? As someone who uses rocktape on myself and on some patients (that’s my bias coming out) I find it useful as a temporary mesure to get allow you to get out running, or to allow you to feel you can run that little bit further 

Nowhere in the article does it say that kinesiology tape can prevent injuries or claim to stop injuries happening, but this appears to be what some people are pontificating about. For example The Australian Physical therapy Association (APA) in “Kinesio tape not the answer to preventing runner’s knee and other injuries” appear to get very distressed saying that Runners World are claiming that taping would stop injuries… In the online article I’ve read, RW are claiming nothing of the sort. I even went back through RW twitter feed to see if maybe they’d updated it (I couldn’t find any notifications or admissions of updates)

  • The press release from APA then starts to quote Dr C Barton and The Clinical Practice Guidelines co-authored with  R Willy. The information in here is mostly great. In my words it says;
  • You’re more than likely not broken and don’t need fixing, but hey best to get it checked out to make sure.
  • Most pain during running is caused by over training, and/or under conditioning. (I’d also add progressing too fast, not resting enough and poor diet. (Get all this right and you substantially reduce the risk of injury)

So how and why do we use or should we use tape? I’m going to borrow some words and thoughts from two great educators Greg Lehman and Tom Goom. This is my use of their words so don’t give them hell!

In Greg’s recent post “running is rehab” he makes a very sensible argument for letting the running be your rehab. My take from that is if a couple of little bits of tape change the way your pain feels, or you feel about your pain then why not use it as an enabler to rehab.

Greg also makes the point that if you love your rehab, you’re more likely to do it. So while a strength and conditioning program may be what’s required, it doesn’t have to be done with weights or in a gym. We can do it outside on the runs we love doing..

Greg has basically written what I try to do in clinic, in trying to keep people active and involved in their sport. I had intended to write something which would have been very similar to this. Until everyone forgets Greg’s post and I can then write mine you’re really well advised to go and read his one..

The last consideration..is based on a slide by Tom Goom and subsequent twitter discussion. What’s the risk of stopping running? As runners, so much of our identity and social life can be caught up in our running. If we stop running, we lose part of ourself. We perhaps concentrate on the pain more and potentially increase negative mental health consequences. If tape keeps us running it reduces these risks as well as the others on Toms slide..

To round up. Tape has a place, but it’s part of a treatment and management routine that there to ultimately help you and your body adapt and cope with the new routines that you’re placing on it. So, just as with training, where there are key components and anything else is a small extra, Treatment could be considered the same way, but with taping as a extra. It has its place but it shouldn’t be in first place.

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