Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that affects the thick band of tissue underneath your feet. If you experience a sharp pain in your heel in the morning, it’s the first sign that you may be suffering from plantar!
Typically, plantar fasciitis doesn’t hurt while you’re working out. But after you exercise, the ligament tends to tense up, pulling it tight and causing pain on every step. You’ll also feel pain when you get up after a long rest period, like sleeping or sitting at the laptop.
If you’re a runner, the good news is that it shouldn’t affect your actual run, although it can be unpleasant afterward. But learning plantar fasciitis taping for runners can help to support the plantar fascia while you’re running, as well as support it after your exercise.
Here’s what you need to know about plantar fasciitis and running, as well as learning how to tape your feet for the best support.
How Does Plantar Fasciitis Affect Running?
When the plantar fascia is warm and flexible, you aren’t likely to even feel it during your run.
The problem occurs after your run when your muscles and tissues relax. When your plantar fascia has been in the same position for a few hours—like while you sleep—the tissue tends to “settle,” becoming tight and stiff.
As the feet are far from the heart, circulation can be difficult in the plantar fascia. When you’re exercising, your heart is pumping harder, so even the furthest body parts are bathed in blood and warm and supple.
But during other times—especially when you aren’t active—it can easily stiffen into a tight position. The stiff, tense plantar fascia stretches painfully when you get out of bed or off your chair.
The good news is that plantar fasciitis doesn’t technically affect running performance! But it’s unpleasant enough to leave you not wanting to do much for fear of pain.
However, the biggest potential problem is not plantar fasciitis’s effect on running, but rather the other way around—the effect that running has on plantar fasciitis.
Running is a high-impact activity, which means the plantar fascia and the heel take direct impact forces during the activity.
This has the potential to lead to injury when the plantar fascia and the heel can no longer absorb shock effectively.
Can Taping Help Plantar Fasciitis?
Studies have shown that plantar fasciitis taping is effective as a short-term solution. There are a number of ways it can help with the condition.
One, the tape pulls the skin up a little, stimulating circulation and allowing more blood to flow to the area, which can help it to heal faster. Taping properly also helps stabilize the ligament, preventing it from stretching too much and causing pain.
Wearing tape while you run might not make much difference, because, typically, you don’t feel much pain mid-run. But it’s a valuable technique to know how to do after you run, and it can help to lessen pain later when the plantar fascia begins to stiffen.
What Kind of Tape Do You Use?
There are two kinds of tape to choose from—athletic tape and kinesiology tape. Both can work well for the intended purpose, but it may be worthwhile trying both and seeing which one works best for you.
Athletic tape is also called zinc oxide tape. You can buy it at any sports store or drugstore, and it’s a fairly affordable option.
While it’s flexible enough to wrap your foot, it’s also more rigid than other types of tape, providing excellent support and stability to the plantar fascia.
It has a bit of stretch, which means it’s easy to apply. This kind of tape is also water-resistant and durable, as well as gentle on the skin.
Kinesiology tape—or KT tape—is slightly different from athletic tape. It’s specifically designed to gently pull at the skin and increase circulation, but it takes a bit of skill and practice to use it correctly.
It’s generally a little more pricey than athletic tape, but you should also be able to find it at any drugstore or sporting store.
How to Tape for Plantar Fasciitis
Learning plantar fasciitis taping for runners is an excellent way to always have pain relief and support handy.
Here are two methods to tape your feet, one using athletic tape and one using kinesiology tape.
For both of them, make sure to clean and dry your feet properly before you start taping, not only for the health of your feet but to help the tape stick.
Method 1: Athletic Tape
Once your foot is clean and dry, start by wrapping a piece of athletic tape around the ball of your foot. Keep your foot relaxed throughout the taping.
Cut or tear the tape and stick it down firmly. Then, apply a piece of tape to the heel. Place it underneath your heel—similar to how you did on the forefoot—and wrap each end up the sides of your heel.
Next, you want to cut two strips of tape the length of your arch. Stick one down on the strip under your heel, and run it up your arch, sticking the other end down on the strip under the ball of your foot, underneath your big toe.
Do the same with the other strip; only you want to stick the other end down underneath your little toe. So these two strips form a V-shape under your foot.
Next, run a single strip up the center of your foot in the same way. You can also run a few more strips up each side of the foot to reinforce the support. You also want to repeat the strips on the ball of the foot and the heel, to add more stability.
Start the last step by sticking the end of the tape on the side of the big toe joint. You want to run it down the side of your foot and around the back of your feet, then bring it up again to meet in the same place it started.
If you need to, you can do the same on the other side of the foot. Apply a final strip to the ball of the foot. You should practice this a few times along with the video until you remember how to do it!
Method 2: KT Tape
You want to start this one with your foot in a flexed position, the opposite of the athletic taping technique. Cut three strips of tape that run from about the ball of your foot to your heel.
You want to break the adhesive backing about 1.5” from the end of one of these strips and stick the end down firmly in the middle of the ball of your foot, rubbing it to make sure it sticks properly.
Then, grab the rest of the tape and stretch it to about 1.5 times its length. Stick it down on the heel—the tape should be stretched between the heel and the ball of the foot. You then want to stick it up the back of the Achilles and rub it there and underneath the foot—keeping the foot flexed—so it sticks.
With the next strip, you want to start by sticking one end firmly over your inner ankle, starting about 4” above the ankle bone. Apply the same amount of stretch to the tape as you did before, and wrap it underneath the heel and up over the outer ankle.
For the third strip, you want to anchor it on the back of your heel, just between the two trips that are already there. The strip should be facing towards your foot. This time, don’t stretch the tap, but run it down underneath the inner ankle, under the arch, and up over the foot.
Don’t forget to rub each strip vigorously to activate the adhesive after application. If it sounds confusing, watch the video to better understand how to do it!
How Long Can You Keep the Tape On For?
It’s a good idea to ask your doctor, physiotherapist, or even just the salespeople at the store how long you can keep the tape on.
If the tape sticks nicely and your skin has no bad reactions to it, you should be able to keep it on for three to four days before needing to reapply.
You may need to reapply it more often if you sweat a lot. The added moisture can cause the tape to lift, or it may just make the tape smell. It’s up to you how often you reapply, but daily to every three days or so is the norm.
Other Home Treatment Options for Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis taping is an excellent way to support and protect the plantar fascia from pain and overstretching. But it’s not the only thing you can do if you’re suffering from this condition.
Implement these steps and you should notice a marked improvement in your pain levels.
Icing the plantar fascia can help to reduce the inflammation, lowering your chances of developing that sharp, stabbing pain. Interestingly, cold works better than heat to reduce the pain in this case.
You can ice your affected plantar fascia two to three times a day, for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. However, it’s best not to ice it first thing in the morning, even though the pain is worst at this time.
Icing before the ligament and tissues are warmed up can do more damage. It’s a good idea to wait until at least mid-day, then ice a few hours apart.
Gently stretching your plantar fascia can help to keep the blood flowing properly and prevent it from stiffening up. Whenever you’re sitting down or lying down, take the opportunity to stretch and massage the ligament.
You should also take every opportunity to stretch and massage your calf muscles. When the calf muscles are tight, they can contract and pull on the plantar fascia—they’re connected at the heel.
Change Your Shoes
Some shoes can make your plantar fasciitis worse. But if you choose the right shoes for plantar fasciitis, they can make a positive difference to your pain levels.
You should wear a shoe with ample cushioning, the right arch support, extra padding under the heel, and a firm heel counter. In many cases, wearing shoes that aren’t supportive enough can make your PF symptoms worse!
Wearing orthotics can make a big difference to plantar fasciitis pain. If your current shoes aren’t providing the right support and padding, you may want to consider adding an insole to the shoes instead.
You can find insoles designed specifically for high arches, which provide the support the plantar ligament struggles to provide when inflamed.
Many add extra cushion under the heel, which can save you from that stabbing pain, especially if you do high-impact sports like running.