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Preparation

Athletes who decide to try taping should purchase a tape adherent that provides a taping base to hold the tape to the skin. The best adherent is tincture of benzoin in a liquid or swabs (a woman's blush makeup brush is a good size for applying the benzoin).

Preparation includes several steps. Before taping, clean the feet of their natural oils, dust, and dirt. This is vital to getting a good stick with the tape. If you have used any lubricant on your feet, wipe it off with a towel first. Rubbing alcohol works well to clean the feet and dries quickly. For fanny-pack use, buy alcohol wipes in small disposable packets. Next, apply the tape adherent to the areas needing taping and let it dry. Then apply the tape based on your specific needs or problems.

When applying the tape, keep it as smooth as possible. Ridges in the tape may cut into the skin and lead to irritation that may cause blisters. If the tape must be overlapped, be sure the overlapping edge of the tape is in the same direction as the force of motion. For example, if taping the ball of the foot, the force is towards the rear of the foot, so the most forward piece of tape should overlap over the piece towards the back. If taping the heel, the force is towards the rear and up the back of the heel, so the tape on the bottom of the heel should overlap the piece higher up on the back of the heel. This will keep the tape from catching on the sock and peeling up. The less overlap the better. Applying the tape too tightly may cause circulation problems. If, after application, the skin becomes discolored, cool, or numb, loosen the tape.

Place a single layer of toilet paper or tissue over any existing blisters where the outer skin has pulled loose from the inner skin. This keeps the adhesive from attacking the sensitive area and protects the blistered skin when the tape is removed. You can also substitute a piece of duct tape against the tissue, sticky side to sticky side, allowing the slick side of the duct tape to face the hot spot or blister. Try not to use gauze since it is too abrasive.

After the foot is taped, several finishing touches should be made. Run a thin layer of Bag Balm or similar lubricant over the tape and around the edges. This reinforces the tape's status as part of your foot by providing a barrier that neutralizes any adhesive leaks and allows the taped surface to slip easily across friction points without snagging. Finally, after spraying and taping your feet, be sure to apply a lubricant or powder to the sprayed areas that are not taped to counteract any adhesive left uncovered.

You may be able to tape all areas of your feet yourself. If you have problems reaching the outer edges of your feet, your heels, or any other awkward area, find someone to help with the taping.

As important as taping the feet is, all those benefits can be lost if the athlete is not careful in putting on or taking off his or her socks. The socks should be rolled on and off. All the time and value of a good tape job can be ruined when changing socks too fast. The use of a shoehorn is recommended to keep addition fiction off the heel as it is lowered into the shoe.

Taping is useful for prerun preparation as well as for fixing newly developed problem spots. If you typically blister on the balls of your feet, consider taping before the run when you have the time to do it right rather then at an aid station when you need every minute of time. Practice taping to learn how best to apply the tape to meet your particular needs. Determine how much time is needed to do a complete application. If you are going to have crew support for an event, teach them how to do the taping. It is usually easier to tape the night before an event than wait until the morning when time is rushed and you may do a hurried job.

If you are bothered by blisters and have found that powders and/or lubricants do not work, try the different tapes to find a tape and taping method that works for you. In the chapter on foot-care kits, you will find a list of taping materials to carry during your runs and hikes.

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