Written by Liz Grimm for ATRA’s Spring 2017 Trail Times Newsletter.
Your brain’s sole existence in the world is to survive – because of this, the body has evolved to become a machine capable of changing in any way needed to survive whatever conditions challenge it. As runners, we call this compensation. When things go awry or pain creeps up, the body tries to change its stance, its posture, which muscles are “firing,” anything it can to keep you going.
By the time a runner finally gives in to get that nagging injury seen, the list of what IS or COULD be wrong can be very, very long. It could take a while to properly go through that list, because it could be something as small as a jammed metatarsal, or it could be a system-wide neurological response that is going to take some to re-train. Inevitably, as runners, there is always that race you’d hate to miss out during your rehab time. So, how can performance or rehab therapists best support you and keep you on the trail?
Of all brands, I prefer Kinesio Tape®, the original kinesiology tape developed by Dr. Kenzo Kase. This colorful, stretchy tape is used in a plethora of ways, such as joint mobility, joint stability, lymph drainage, scar management, and even neuromuscular red-education! The tape acts an extra layer of skin and tissue to provide extra support and neuromuscular input.
How can this be helpful to the trail runner? The great thing about Kinesio Tape® is that has such a high pay off, low risk return, that we can use many different applications to support general functions, while your performance therapist is fine tuning you. Plus, many of the applications you can even do yourself, or grab another fellow runner for help.
Introducing the ATRA Kinesio Taping Quarterly DIY Applications for Trail Runners! This is part one of four DIY Kinesio Tape® articles that are high pay off, low-risk taping applications to enhance your performance or speed up injury rehabilitation.
The first application we’ll look at is a hip support taping. This one will usually have immediate, positive effects and is great for anyone suffering from hip flexor pain/tightness, hip adductor tightness, IT band tightness, knee pain and even some foot and ankle pain.
Target Body Part:
This application activates the glutes, specifically focusing the glute med. Your glutes have four major functions: internal rotation, external rotation, extension, and abduction. Use your leg? Glutes are involved somewhere. Glutes are also very strong muscles, but can be neurologically “shut off” due to an injury or neurological impingement lower down in the leg.
Because it is fairly easy to turn off glutes, but they are SUCH important muscles, this application is designed to give you better stability in that leg. Can you do a complete single leg squat? Without holding on to anything. Just pop that left leg out, and squat all the way down on the right leg. Are you laughing at the idea? Every athlete who plays any sport where only one leg is being used at a time, and gravity is affecting that leg, should be able to completely a single leg squat. If not, try this, I bet you’ll be able to go down a bit further.
How to Apply It:
First, pick a tape. I prefer Kinesio Tape® Tex Gold for this application. Next best thing would be KT Tape, then Rock Tape, then your off-shoot medical brand. (Yes, there are actual differences in the tapes!)
Second, familiarize yourself with the tape. The most important piece is knowing how much stretch to give. Too little, not effective sometimes. Too much, overwhelming the nervous system. (P.S., the 100% stretch here distorted the paper to make it seem like the tops aren’t even.)
Third, bare your rear. My guinea pig above didn’t, but you’ll want to wear clothing that will at least allow access to nearly the full cheek.
Goal View & Steps:
- Lay on your non-affected side, with your top leg resting against the bottom one, and slightly extended.
- Measure a piece of tape from roughly your Iliac Crest (the top of your hip bone. Ladies, this is where those babies always sit on your hip. Men, feel your hip bone, that whole ridge line is the iliac Crest), make a “c-ish” to reach right behind your trochanter (your hip joint. To find it, run your finger up and down about the middle area of your hip and bring your knee up and down, once you feel where the bone is moving – that’s your trochanter.)
- When you have the length determined, cut it, and then round the edges, so that they aren’t typical square edges.
- Flip the tape over to the paper side, and tear off the top block (if using Kinesio Tape) or 2-3 inches to make an “anchor.”
- Find the highest point of your iliac crest (usually right there on the side), then place this anchor facing down and slightly back about one to two inches down, and two to three inches to the back towards your sacrum.
- Give the tape about 25% stretch from your anchor (should be just enough on Kinesio Tex Gold Tape to start seeing the weave on the back) to create a shallow C, with a longer tail until the end reaches about the very edge area of your trochanter.
- Rub the tape in the direction it goes, gently! to activate the adhesive.
- Stand up and try it out!
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this application. In fact, I don’t hit any race or really hilly and rocky trail without this application. I’ve managed to be able to self apply it, but you may want a friend to help the first few times until you get the hang of it. I usually pair this application with an IT Band support taping. That’ll be the next quarter’s article!
CAUTION: Do NOT put any heat on the tape, such as a heating pad, Icy Hot creams, hair dryers, etc. Regular showering is ok, but extra heat may melt the adhesive. Ouch. To remove it, get it all soapy and wet, and GENTLY roll it off. If you just yank like a bandaid, you’ll be saying goodbye to a few layers of skin and hair. Major Ouch.
Liz Grimm returns to Colorado after having lived and practiced in Texas and Washington, D.C., area where she honed her unique approach to performance and recovery to introduce Coloradoans to Golgi Performance (a play on Golgi Tendon Organs, and an homage to Liz’s love of all things Italian). Liz mixes soft tissue performance therapy based on Russian techniques, biomechanics and postural analysis, medical massage techniques, muscle release techniques, Kinesio Taping, and more to provide athletes with an expert level of soft tissue care. Whether it’s for performance enhancement, preventing injuries through insuring proper body mechanics and posture, decreasing overtraining injuries through decreasing muscle tone and reducing bodily fatigue or injury recovery, Golgi Performance keeps its athletes in top condition. 402 W Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO 80907, (719) 424-0352, www.golgiperformance.com.