Summer is in the air and people are lacing up their sneakers and hitting the park paths and city streets for one of their favorite activities, running.
Whether you’re a newbie recreational runner, a weekend warrior, or an Olympian, staying pain-free and preventing injury is of utmost importance.
In our latest blog, we’ll explore the causes and offer solutions to knee pain and other common runner’s injuries. Throughout, you’ll learn effective strategies for preventing injuries, and how to apply kinesiology tape to lessen the stress and pain associated with runner’s injuries.
Common Causes of Knee Pain for Runners
According to sports doctor Jordan Metzl, the four most common causes of knee pain among runners are:
1. Runner’s knee. This is pain under your kneecap that feels worse after running, and is most noticeable when walking up or down stairs.
2. Patellar tendonitis. This type of pain is located below your kneecap and at the top of your shin. It gets worse during your run and also hurts going up or down stairs.
3. Iliotibial band syndrome. This is pain that you feel on the outside of your knee. It typically appears around five minutes into a run and subsides after you’ve finished the run.
4. Osteoarthritis. This kind of pain comes with swelling and stiffness in your knee during your runs as well as during day-to-day activities.
How To Strengthen & Heal Your Knees
There are a variety of effective strategies for strengthening and healing your knees. Excellent options include:
– A variety of yoga poses that can directly strengthen and heal your knees.
– Incorporating pilates, which is great for improving core strength and has the beneficial side-effect of improving alignment of all the joints, including the knees—and hence reducing the chance of injury.
– Devising your own exercise sequence to enhance core strength.
Kinesiology Tape: A Runner’s Best Friend
Kinesiology taping is a type of therapeutic rehabilitative taping, developed in Japan more than 25 years ago, that mimics the elasticity of human skin. This flexible tape provides support to the muscles around an injured area while still allowing full range of motion.
As explained in Runner’s World:
“Kinesiology tape is, quite literally, tape that you … apply to your muscles. “It’s an elastic tape that provides sensory input into an area, but still allows for full range of motion,” explains Laurey Lou, a physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery Sports Medicine in Westchester, New York.”
The benefits of Kinesiology tape are similar to the benefits of massage or acupressure. Its three primary functions are to:
- Reduce inflammation and swelling
- Minimize pain
- Provide tactile cues to proper form
How Kinesiology Tape Works
So how, exactly, does Kinesiology tape work?
The tape lifts the skin slightly away from the muscles and fascia, which has the effect of “fluffing up” the fascia in order to increase circulation and reduce swelling. In a sense we could say that the tape activates the innate intelligence of the particular part of the body that it is in contact with.
Kinesiology tape also communicates with the central nervous system (the brain) through sensory nerves on the skin, which can effectively reduce pain. When we bump our arm or leg against something hard, we instinctively rub that area with our hand. Kinesiology tape works in a similar fashion, to soothe the area and create new sensations to diffuse the focus on the painful sensations.
Before we get to how to apply kinesiology tape, feel free to browse our selection of Pre-Cut I-Strip Rolls, EASYFIT® Kinesiology Tape, and our new TYPHOON™ Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape for your kinesiology tape needs.
How to Apply Kinesiology Tape for Common Runner’s Injuries
Kinesiology tape can be really helpful in treating some common running injuries. The tape supports the relaxation or contraction of specific muscles groups, so while it can be of great benefit, it can also make the problem worse if it is incorrectly applied. So, while it’s definitely possible to apply to yourself, it may be worth consulting with a physical therapist the first time around.
Physical therapist Laurey Lou recommends the following ways of applying Kinesiology tape to help prevent or recover from common runner’s injuries …
Kinesiology Tape for Shin Splints
The pain associated with shin splints occurs when you overload the muscles in the front of your shin, which then causes inflammation in the muscles, tendons, and bone.
To address this issue with KT: Tape from just below the outside of your knee to just beneath the base of your big toe. Then apply additional strips of the tape the length of the full width of your shin laterally over your pain points.
Kinesiology Tape for Knee Pain
Knee pain is often the result of imbalanced or weak gluteal muscles.
To help resolve this issue with KT: Anchor two strips of tape on the quadriceps muscle, and then run them down the right and left of the knee cap to create a teardrop shape. Then add another strip of tape that runs across the other two right below the knee cap.
Kinesiology Tape for Achilles Tendon Pain
The repetitive motion stress of running can tighten and overwork the large Achilles tendon that connects the two major calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) with the back of the heel bone.
To address this issue with KT: Apply one strip of tape starting at the mid-calf down to the bottom of the foot. Then cross another strip over the back of the heel/ankle.
Kinesiology Tape for General Muscle Pain
If you’re experiencing general soreness or muscle pain, and want more support for that muscle, you can use Kinesiology tape to provide this support.
Here’s how: Apply two strips—or one strip cut into a “Y” shape—to the border of the area that is sore.
Kinesiology Tape for Swelling
If you roll as ankle or tweak a knee or other joint, it may become swollen and inflamed.
How to use KT to address this issue: Cut small projecting strips off the anchor point of the tape (so that it looks kind of like an octopus) and lay the tape with no added stretch over the swollen area.
The Bottom Line
As you’ve discovered here, Kinesiology tape can be of great support for preventing or recovering from a running and other injuries. Mueller Sports Medicine also offers a variety of knee braces and supports that, like our kinesiology tape, can be useful for runners to help prevent or heal from injuries.
Questions or comments? Feel free to leave a comment!
*Please consult with a medical professional if you have any medical issues that may be affected by the suggested activities.