How To Tape Your Achilles
The Achilles tendon, also known as the calcaneal tendon or heel cord, sits behind the lower leg and attaches to three nearby muscles and the heel bone. The tendon allows these muscles to flex the foot at the ankle and the knee.
True to its origin, named after a Greek hero in the 1600s because his only weakness was one heel, issues with Achilles tendons can arise. These can include rupture, inflammation (Achilles tendonitis), degeneration, and cholesterol deposits. One effective way to gain relief and aid the healing process is taping the area to support the Achilles tendon. This can be done by professionals or at home, so knowing how to tape your Achilles tendon properly is important when it is causing you trouble.
The Benefits of Achilles Taping
The common reason for taping is pain, inflammation, and possible tendon micro tears due to injury or overuse. The treatment plan can begin with ice and rest, and then gentle stretching when advised to do so. When you are reading to mobilise, having the tendon and calf strapped can support the structures you as you go about your day, reducing pain, improving healing, and preventing further injury.
Achilles Tendon Taping Techniques
There are different options for taping depending on your issue. You can try them out for a day or so and decide what works best for you. Once your foot is taped, it can feel a little strange, but if it is not causing pain and it feels supportive, you’ve done it correctly. Don’t leave the tape on for more than three days. Take it off for a day and let your skin breathe before re-applying.
Your arch may need extra support if your foot leans in as you step, and the arch begins to flatten. This type of taping can be useful if you are a runner, or if you have a condition called Plantar Fasciitis.
- Firstly, measure a piece of tape long enough that it will reach around your foot.
- Begin at the knuckle of your big toe at the top of your foot.
- Gently push up your arch slightly as you wrap the tape around the inside of your foot and continue all the way around the outside of your foot, ending at the knuckle of your little toe.
- Then, measure and cut three pieces of tape that will reach across the bottom of your foot. Begin with one near the knuckle of your fifth toe, and gently press the tape under your foot, pulling it up as you then stick it the tape of the other side of your foot.
- Moving down the length of your foot, continue this process with the other two pieces, overlapping each by about half the width of each, until you reach your heel.
- Test whether the taping is too tight by taking some careful steps. If it is pulling and causing pain, you need to adjust it.
- Finally, place a strip of tape along the top of your foot to secure the other tape.
Taping for Dorsiflexion
Your tendon may be causing you discomfort if your foot is bending up too much, which is called dorsiflexion. This issue can aggravate insertional Achilles tendonitis, which is a condition that requires professional diagnosis and guidance.
To begin taping, loop tape around your lower calf muscle about 20cm above your heel. It should be slightly firm but not cutting off circulation. Then, with your foot in a neutral position, place a strip around the end of your foot, just before the ball. Next, run a strip from the bottom of your foot on the outside in a diagonal line over the heel and up the leg. Then do the same thing with another piece but begin of the inside and reach across to the outside of your leg. This will avoid direct pressure on your Achilles tendon.
Types Of Tape
Ensure you choose a tape that is hypoallergenic if you know you have sensitive skin. Most professionals now recommend rigid tape rather than the kinesiology tape that was popular in the past because it stops the ankle bending. You may find K-tape works for you, however, and it can still be effective.
When Not To Tape
Strapping tape can cause skin issues, so it is important to test for reactions before you strap your foot. You should only use tape if you have full sensation in your foot because otherwise you are at risk of being unaware of irritation caused by the tape. If you have conditions that mean you do not, consult a professional for advice. It is also good to talk to a professional when you are suffering foot issues to ensure you are doing the best thing for your particular condition.
Taping Your Achilles Tendon Correctly
Taping is not a long-term solution. It is a way to gain relief and support when putting weight onto your foot, walking and exercising, which is are important parts of recovery. It can take a few weeks for Achilles tendon issues to resolve, and taping can be an extremely effective factor. If issues continue, do reach out to professionals for advice because you may require other treatment. In the meantime, taping your Achilles tendon correctly is fundamental when performing this simple and cost-effective treatment.
Our team of physiotherapist are more than happy to work with you to find out what is going on with your foot, decide which taping to go for, and help you perfect your taping technique. Make an appointment with us so we can help you on your road to recovery.