Plantar fasciitis taping functions to reduce the stress and tension within the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is considered the ligament of the arch and runs from the heel bone to the ball of the foot. Therefore, taping that follows the plantar fascia functions like an external splint. For the bottom of the foot, taping is very effective in that it allows the foot to still function in a fairly normal manner. This also greatly reduces the risk of tearing the plantar fascia. Many athletes tape their ankles or their feet to prevent injuries (or after an injury develops).
What you will need:
You will need the tape to stick to the skin fairly well. If there is significant foot moisture or lotion on the skin, then this should be washed off. If the tape still does not stick well, you can wipe a thin layer of milk of magnesia on the foot. Another option is to soak the foot in tea water. The tannic acid of the black tea is very good at toughening up the skin and also helps the tape stick more effectively.
- A pair of scissors.
- A roll of 1 inch tape (or 1.5 inch tape). We like to use Johnson & Johnson Zonas brand tape.
- A roll of 2 inch tape (again 1.5 inch tape will work also).
What to expect from the taping:
Taping allows individuals to do some of the normal athletic activities without "paying a price." However, it is best to use the tape as part of an overall treatment plan for the plantar fascia. Taping tends to offer temporary protection against further injury or progression of the plantar fasciitis and heel pain. Some people find more relief with taping than others. Some individuals find that initially the taping is very helpful but then the skin becomes irritated with the tape and they cannot tolerate ongoing taping.
The biggest concern:
Skin irritation or allergic reaction. This can cause a severe blister or open wound for some individuals. Diabetic individuals or individuals with thin skin or peripheral vascular problems should not use tape. Once there is a slightest skin irritation, discontinue taping immediately and do not use the tape again. Instead switch to a PSC wrap, and other treatments.
Step-by-step instructions on LowDye taping method:
Step #1: The anchor strap: Wrap around the perimeter of the foot from behind the first metatarsal toward the heel, around the heel and then back toward the fifth metatarsal.
Step #2: Apply the first cross strap and tape across the bottom of the foot. Start just behind the first and fifth metatarsal-just behind the weightbearing ball of the foot. Apply the tape here and extend it up, overlapping the anchor strap on the side.
Step #3: Apply more of the cross straps. Overlap the next piece of tape by approximately 50% and continue taping layer by layer back toward the heel. It is not necessary to cover the bottom of the heel. Usually there are 3-4 cross straps.
Step #4: Finally, lay another piece of tape just over the anchor strap to cover all of the unfinished ends of the tape along the perimeter of the foot from the first metatarsal back around the heel extending to the fifth metatarsal.
Step #5: The last optional piece of tape would be to wrap a piece of tape all the way around the forefoot similar to the very first crosspiece in step #3.
Variations on the LowDye taping technique:
You can have a piece of 1 inch tape forming an "x" just in front of the bottom of the heel near the area of the pain. This can be done between steps #3 and #4 above. Another option is moleskin placed in the mid arch. This is also called a "T. strap."
Medical disclaimer: This information is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. It is important to realize that there are potential risks with applying tape. As mentioned, one would be an allergic reaction. Another would be skin irritation or blister formation. In some individuals, these blisters could develop serious infections. Therefore, it is best to check with a medical doctor before using tape on your skin.
Issaquah Foot and Ankle Specialists
Did you know that we have developed a dedicated resource for heel pain sufferers?