When you have knee pain, just the impact of your own body weight can be unbearable as you're running. Typical runner's knee, or patellofemoral pain, happens when physical stress causes a number of issues around the kneecap, including misalignment, dislocation, swelling or irritation of the soft tissues around the knee, or even breakdown of cartilage. To minimize the pain and pressure caused by putting weight on a damaged knee, you can wrap the area firmly with kinesiology tape, a favorite of Olympians that provides stability, improves circulation and allows for full range of motion. Elastic bandages are also effective in knee wrapping.
Kinesiology Tape Method
Sit with your knee extended on a flat surface. Keep the muscles of your leg relaxed, which will help the tape go on more smoothly. Make sure your knee area is clean and dry.
Choose a color of kinesiology tape based on your needs and comfort. A black kinesio tape will provide additional strength, hold and water resistance around the knee to reduce body weight stress. A blue tape will provide cooling if you have inflammation in the soft tissues. A pink tape produces mild heating, which can help soothe tight muscles and joints.
Measure a piece of tape that will fit just under your kneecap, at the joint where the cap meets the head of the tibia. Cut a piece of tape long enough to cover the joint, or about 3 to 4 inches.
Cut the tape and use your scissors to round off the four corners. While the tape is very adhesive, rounding the corners will prevent them from peeling off.
Rip the backing about a half inch from the edge of one side of the tape. Carefully peel away the backing in the center of the tape, but leave the backing attached on each side so that you have something to hold onto on both edges of the tape.
Hold the tape and firmly stretch it until it is fully expanded. This tension is what will provide support and strength to the knee joint. The ends you are holding should not stretch. Only the center of the tape, which you will place on the joint, needs to be stretched to secure the joint.
Carefully place the tape at the base of the knee cap over the joint. You can release the tension once the center of the tape is firmly secured. Carefully peel away the remaining backing on the tape edges and smooth the edges down. To remove the tape, gently roll the edges up and away from your skin with the palm of your hand.
Elastic Bandage Method
Sit in a chair with the knee slightly bent. A knee that's either bent at a 90-degree angle or fully extended won't feel properly supported once you stand and begin to walk or run.
Hold the bandage behind the calf muscle, with the end of the bandage to the inside of your leg and the roll to the outside. The lower you begin wrapping, the more support--but less range of motion--you'll have. Start at about two to three inches below the knee.
Firmly wrap around the calf by unrolling the bandage toward the inside of your leg and moving up the leg about one inch at every wrap. The overlapping bandage will provide greater support. Wrap until you reach the bottom of the kneecap.
Pull the wrap around the inside of the kneecap. The bandage will make a "C" shape around the inside of the knee. On the upper leg, you will be unrolling the bandage toward the outside of the leg. Wrap the bandage firmly for two to three inches above the knee. Secure any remaining bandage with two bandage clips. You can also tuck the end of the bandage inside the wrapped fabric on your thigh to secure it. Wrapping around instead of over your kneecap increases your range of motion and minimizes irritation of any knee pain you may have.
Stand up, walk and jog in place. You should have full circulation in your foot, but the bandage should feel snug and support your knee. If you feel that your range of motion is too restricted, unwrap and rewrap with less bandage above and below the knee. If you don't feel supported enough, unwrap and rewrap with more bandage above and below the knee.
Items you will need
- 3-4 inches of kinesiology tape
- Elastic compression bandage (2-4 inches wide, 4-6 feet long)
- 2 bandage clips
- If the kinesiology tape is firmly stuck, you can use warm water and mild soap to help gently remove it.
- Consult a doctor for persistent knee pain, especially if it is accompanied by swelling or warmth.
- Always consult a doctor before beginning a fitness regime or continuing a fitness regime after an injury.
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