Key Tips On Athletic Taping Of The Foot And Ankle
8. Tape directly to the skin in order to give the maximum amount of support and protection.
9. In order to minimize strain, one must be in the proper position for applying tape at a comfortable height. Otherwise, it can be tough on the back and wrists.
A Primer On Basic Taping Skills
One must develop proper taping techniques by extensive practice (see “Nine Key Principles Of Taping” above). The chosen tape width depends on the area one is covering. More narrow tape is required for more acute angles in order to fit the contours of the area to be taped. Commonly, one would use 1/2- to 1-inch tape on the foot and 1.5-inch tape on the ankle.
Tearing tape is an important skill to master as learning to tear tape effectively from different positions is essential for speed and efficiency. To tear tape, hold it in the preferred hand with the index finger hooked through the center of the tape roll and the thumb pressing the tape roll’s outer edge (pinched). Then grasp the loose end between the thumb and index finger with the other hand. With both hands, make a quick, scissors-like action to tear the tape.
One should also emphasize careful tape removal. It is best to remove tape immediately after the sports activity by using either tape cutters (great for ankle tape jobs) or tape scissors, gently lifting tape away from the skin and advancing along the body’s natural contours. One must stabilize the skin while pulling the tape in the direction of hair growth. Avoid tearing the tape off rapidly as this could damage the skin and cause an abrasion or “skin burn.” Try to avoid using chemical solvents as well.
Step-By-Step Pointers For Taping Common Injuries
The following basic tape jobs are applicable to common foot and ankle injuries.
Hallux spica. One can use this for turf toe or soccer toe injuries. This taping will support and limit motion at the first metatarsophalangeal joint (MPJ) in the direction that one applies the taping. One can use 1-inch or 1/2-inch tape for this technique. The tape job starts on the superior medial aspect of the first MPJ and encircles the hallux. One would finish the strap over the starting point, forming a spica over the joint. Repeat this several times, overlapping the previous spica. To finish off the taping, lock it with an anchor around the hallux distally and the midfoot proximally with care not to put medial to lateral compression across the metatarsal heads.
Arch strapping (low dye). This technique commonly treats plantar fasciitis, posterior tibial tendonitis and medial tibial stress syndrome. One can use several variations. Hold the foot in a neutral position and it is helpful to plantarflex the first ray slightly. Using 1-inch tape, place an anchor from proximal to the first MPJ to the fifth MPJ, forming a “U” behind the heel. Be careful about placing the anchor. If one places the anchor too high, it can irritate the back of the heel/Achilles area. If you place the anchor too low, it will pull on the plantar aspect.
Then apply a series of 2-inch tape straps going lateral to medial in order to “lift the arch.” Overlap the 2-inch tape straps by one half, going proximal to distal. Doing so leaves the heel area open. Repeat this and add another anchor.
Subsequently, one should place a strap of tape, sticky side up, on the dorsum of the foot and apply two straps on top. This enables clinicians to secure the tape job without irritating or pulling on the top of the foot.
An alternate method is using an “X” crossing on the plantar aspect of the foot. With this approach, the anchor starts proximal to the first metatarsal head, going medially to the heel around the lateral heel and finishing back at the first metatarsal head. Repeat this from the fifth metatarsal head, going laterally to the heel and around the medial heel back to the fifth metatarsal head. This forms an “X” under the arch. Then one would proceed to place several straps lateral to medial over the “X” in the arch.