Experiencing signs of plantar fasciitis? Getting plantar fascia to heal is difficult when activities you love or simply need to do involve being on your feet. It’s hopeful to assume the damaged tissues will heal while you stand on them and continue to stress them. However, you need to somehow lessen these damaging forces while still moving about in your daily activities. Exercises like calf stretching and selecting supportive shoes for plantar fasciitis are great plantar fasciitis home remedies that can help a great deal, but you may also need to utilize a direct approach of using athletic tape to aid in giving you much-needed arch support. This can be done through plantar fasciitis taping, which essentially helps to create an “artificial plantar fascia” — the word “plantar” simply meaning the “bottom of the foot” and the word “fascia” referring to the strong strap-like bands of tissue that hold us together. Taping is also a good way to support a foot with heel spur.
To plantar fasciitis tape or not to plantar fasciitis tape…when it comes to treating plantar fasciitis pain, the only real question about the effectiveness of kinesiology taping foot for plantar fasciitis is how to do it. In this guide, we’ll explain how this method works, how to tape your feet, and tips for treating plantar fasciitis.
Does Plantar Fasciitis Taping Work?
No, you will not feel instant relief, but a research study conducted through Old Dominion University showed that people with heel pain who used arch taping recovered more rapidly than those who did not. We suggest repeated kinesiology taping over a course of two weeks to protect the plantar fascia. If symptoms return when the foot is not taped, a custom orthotic such as our arch support inserts may provide a long-term solution for pain relief.
How to Tape Your Feet
You will need a roll of athletic tape, which is typically 1 ½ inch wide. This is widely available at drug stores and sporting goods stores. If you have a small foot, you may want to tear the kinesiology tape in the middle so that you are using ¾ inch-wide strips. Make sure your foot is dry from bathing or perspiration, and don’t put lotion on your foot if you plan to tape it that day. Now that you have the materials and your foot is ready to tape, follow these steps:
Step 1: Apply Anchors
Cross your injured foot, so your ankle rests on the opposite knee. Apply a strip of kinesiology tape across the ball of the foot, and then another strip of tape across the middle of your heel.
Step 2: Crossing Strips
Pull your toes upward before you apply the tape. Start at the ball of the foot on the side of your big toe and apply a strip that runs diagonally across the bottom of the foot to the outside of the heel. Repeat this from the other side of the foot, starting at the ball of the foot under your pinky toe, applying the strip diagonally so it ends on the arch side of the heel.
Step 3: Arch Reinforcement Strip
Start again with a strip of tape that begins on the ball of the foot on the big toe side. Pull this strip straight back across the arch side of your foot and finish by anchoring it at the heel.
Step 4. Closing Strips
Finish by applying closing strips to go over the ends of the tape from the diagonal and arch reinforcement strips. These are similar to the anchor strips that were applied first. If the tape is pulling away in the foot arch area, you can add a few strips in that area as well, but in general, once you put the foot in a shoe or sandal that has arch support, the tape will stay in place nicely. You will feel some “pulling” from the support of the tape, but remember that without the tape, that tension would be going directly to your plantar fascia.
Tips for Plantar Fasciitis Taping
If the tape is comfortable, do not mess with it. It may come off when you shower, but if it’s still holding and giving you support, leave it on for a couple of days. When you want to take it off, use lotion to release the adhesives in the tape from your skin. Gently hold an edge of the tape as you carefully push your skin away from the tape. Take your time removing the tape. Leave the tape off for several hours to let your skin breathe. If you want to try taping the foot again the next day, it is a good idea to take the tape off the night before.
A word of caution: Some people have known allergies to the adhesives in athletic tape, and others have very sensitive skin that could be irritated by trying arch taping. Others have a condition that causes the feet to sweat excessively, making it difficult for the tape to hold. If you have any of these issues, you may want to seek out other methods of treatment for plantar fasciitis.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis: The 3 F’s
Heel pain is very common, but attention to the factors that produce high stresses to the plantar fascia can put you on the road to recovery. Remember the “Three F” approach of treatments for plantar fasciitis:
- Flexibility — Get in the habit of stretching your calf muscles throughout the day to help with pain relief.
- Footwear — Find shoes, such as those by Vionic, that are designed to support the arch, whenever you are standing or walking. Aside from plantar fasciitis, we also have other orthotics shoes that would relieve other foot problems, such as ankle sprain, heel spur, Achilles tendon injury, and plantar heel pain.
- Force Control — Learn the simple process of applying athletic tape to your own feet and stick to a program for results that last.
Finding Footwear for Plantar Fasciitis
Along with the right plantar fasciitis treatment, your foot will need the right support while it’s recovering. At Vionic, we carry men’s and women’s shoes for plantar fasciitis in a number of styles. You don’t have to sacrifice stylish footwear for comfort and support. We design all of our shoes with arch support in styles you’ll love! When dealing with plantar fasciitis, you’ll want to follow the 3 F method for a holistic approach. To assist your plantar fasciitis taping treatment, browse our women’s and men’s shoes for plantar fasciitis. Find the best flats for plantar fasciitis or even the best slippers today! And once they’ve healed, you can then research plantar fasciitis prevention tips.
— Written by Brian Hoke, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Board-Certified Sports Clinical Specialist, and Vionic Innovation Lab member.