Running pain is the worst. You want to keep going…do your knees disagree? Or is it your IT band? Whatever it is, it can be debilitating.
As an athlete, casual or competitive, many will relate to the fact that even if our bodies don’t want to do what we want them to, we will anyway! Accomplishment often comes from doing those things that are difficult, painful, agonizing. I know I put myself through plenty of hell, but only because I know that at the finish line – when I’ve pushed myself past what I think my limits are, when I keep going after I think there’s no possible way I can – that’s when I really recognize what my body is capable of.
However, what I also find is that after that adrenaline simmers down, the pain sets in. My knees. And my hips. And my back. And my neck. And my ankles. Well, geez, pretty much everything hurts these days. Stubbornly, I won’t let that stop me.
Dealing with Running Pain
I recently started running again after about a 3 year hiatus. A friend convinced our group to sign up for a Ragnar in Colorado, at altitude, which meant I had to train. I’ve never been the best runner, but I was determined to complete all 14.5 miles of my hills.
On the first day, I tied up my New Balance non-running shoes that I had gotten at Marshalls for $40 (bad idea…) and set off around Mission Bay in San Diego for a short 1 mile run. Being that I hadn’t run in 3 years, I wanted to break it in slowly.
My lungs felt okay…my knees not so much. Stubbornly, I pushed on, which, rightfully so, ended up knocking me out of running for a few days while my joints and tendons healed. During that period of complaining and frustration, a friend told me to look into KT tape (Kinesology Tape). She said she used it and it made a difference, but I couldn’t quite wrap my head around how a piece of tape on the outside of my knee would make any difference.
The more I read through the reviews on Amazon, the more good things I read. And it wasn’t just athletes – it was people who work on a computer using it for their wrist, hikers using it for those brutal downhills, runners, etc. My brain still couldn’t process the concept and how it would help, but at this point, I was willing to try. Braces never really helped, and they certainly weren’t comfortable, so this seemed like a reasonable alternative.
What is KT Tape?
KT TAPE is applied along muscles, ligaments, and tendons (soft tissue) to provide a lightweight, external support that helps you remain active while recovering from injuries. KT Tape creates neuromuscular feedback (called proprioception) that inhibits (relaxes) or facilitates stronger firing of muscles and tendons. This feedback creates support elements without the bulk and restriction commonly associated with wraps and heavy bracing. KT Tape gives you confidence to perform your best.
How do I apply KT tape for my running pain?
I ordered my KT tape from Amazon.com in purple and white. They have pre-cut strips, but I went the frugal route and bought a roll of KT tape that I would cut myself. By the time they arrived, my knee was feeling better, and I had also invested in a new pair of Asics, because trust me…Your Shoes Matter. KT Tape in hand, I had no idea where to start. I hate reading instructions, but I’m all about videos and luckily there are a tone of videos out there to show you how to apply the tape where you need it.
I Googled “kt tape knee” and a few options came up. I couldn’t quite think back on exactly where the pain had been while I was running since a few days had passed, so I chose one how-to video and decided to wrap it the way they said.
I went off to test the tape on my run, and I realized that one area where I had previously felt sharp pain while running in the front of my knee, there was nothing. Zero. No pain. However, I apparently had a spot on the outside of my knee where there was still pain, and the way they had told me to wrap didn’t address this area. The next time I went out running, I did a criss-cross on the outside of my knee the way they had shown me to do it on the front of my knee, and just like that, I could run with no pain. No running pain whatsoever! In my head, I was still stumped: Was this just the Placebo effect and my knee stopped hurting because my brain wanted this to fix it, or is this scientifically helping to alleviate the strain on my knee causing the pain? Whatever it was, I was thrilled to be running pain free.
Tips for using your KT tape to avoid running pain
I always say – “Do what works best for you”.
The videos are a great guide to start you off and I do highly recommend you watch them. But, I made plenty of modifications in how I use it.
- Do I need a full, thick strip in every place they tell me?
For me, it depended where the strip was going. In some places, I felt that the full thick strip was needed (FYI: the tape I got from Amazon also had a grid on the paper on the back so that you COULD easily cut it straight). But, for the cross in front and on the side of my knee, I cut them in half, length wise, so that they were narrower and shorter. Otherwise they were way too bulky for me. It also helps me to feel less wasteful. Also, make sure to apply it with the tension as they tell you in the video – if you do it too tight in some places, it’ll likely fall off while you’re running.
- Can I wear my KT Tape for more than a day?
The KT Tape site says it’s guaranteed to help for 24 hours. Personally, I like to use new tape each time I run. However, I do sometimes leave the tape on for the day after (my rest day) to help alleviate some of the pressure. Even in the shower (see below).
- But don’t I look silly wearing these bright colors all over?
No. I mean, okay, maybe a little, but if you’re that uncomfortable running with these bright colors taped all over your body, wear clothing to cover it. But really, it’s no big deal. I’ve found that it stirs up a lot more conversations of people asking what it is, interested to try it on their own, than it ever does judgment. Plus, you’re a rockstar, so who cares what they think? 🙂
- Can the KT tape get wet?
It can, but how well it sticks after will really depend on what kind of tape you buy. I don’t know for sure, but I would assume the more expensive tape would stay on better. My cheaper stuff still stays on, but it starts to curl up at the sides.
Well guys, I hope this has been helpful! KT tape has been incredibly helpful for my running pain – I was able to finish all 14.5 miles of my Ragnar Snowmass race without any pain, and I’m able to continue training and hiking comfortably. It’s especially great for hiking or running downhill. Try it. It’s cheap enough that if it doesn’t work out, it’s no huge loss. But if it does work, it’s a super easy fix! Happy Adventuring!
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*Advntur is not a paid endorser of KT Tape – they just really like it!