In the past year I have had some ‘knee trouble’, which the GP diagnosed as ‘runner’s knee’ after I told him I ‘run a bit’. I was then referred to a physio who worked on an imbalance in my glutes with various squats and physio-band exercises. Eventually things started to improve (thought the squats initially made things worse) and he suggested using a foam-roller to ease out the tightness in my ITB and now, whenever I feel a twinge, I get myself on the foam-roller and it seems to help loosen things out. Sorted. I do, however, have ‘an ankle thing’ going on. When I get up in the morning, my right ankle feels unstable, weak and a little painful to walk on – my first trip down the stairs always looks slightly comical. I have a feeling I am sleeping with my foot in an awkward position, causing my ligaments to stretch and create an imbalance. In an attempt to correct this, I have tried wearing compression socks to bed (too hot in this weather), I have tried wearing a support bandage (rubbish, partly because it’s a knee support, so doesn’t fit properly) and have had little improvement.
I was delighted then, to be asked to try out some rather colourful Kinesiology Tape. You will have seen these bright strips on the lithe limbs of the professionals as they tested their athletic prowess at the Commonwealth Games recently. This made me wonder if tape was something the recreational athlete would find useful but, having tried it out, I think it’s a great alternative to the bandage strips that often lose tension quite quickly and also move about during activity, lessening their efficacy. The tape can be used to support joints during activity, but can also promote recovery and reduce muscle soreness, and I see it can also help reduce cramp, something I have been having problems with recently. I notice also that the tape has a water-resistant coating, though I am yet to try it out in the pool. The tape does not contain latex and is also hypoallergenic – yes, I am one of those people who is left with a big, plaster-shaped red mark when I use some dressings :( The tape is easily applied and you can find instructions here (I am assured there will be illustrated instructions soon, to make application easier). You can see that some applications are easier than others and some, such as the back or shoulders, would require a second pair of hands to make sure you get it right.
I am going to be testing the tape on my ankle over the next couple of weeks and will report back on any improvement. I might also try some post-activity taping to see how effective it is at easing soreness and cramp. In the meantime, you can check out the range of tapes and other products here.