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Duct Tape Techniques

Many runners have successfully used Duct Tape to prevent and also to treat blisters. The basic principle is to cover the spot that's injured with a patch, and in some cases, then anchor the edges and corners of that patch. The powerful adhesive of duct tape holds it close and true to the outline of your skin and the tough plastic outer tape reinforced with fabric can withstand almost unlimited friction. The friction points on your skin will then have what amounts to an additional layer of skin-the duct tape.

Remember a few general duct tape rules. Choose a good quality duct tape with a visible fabric core, not a cheap plastic imitation. Many hardware stores carry several different types of duct tape. The standard grade is typically 9-mil thick, while the contractor and professional grades are generally 10-mil. Duct tape is only available in a 2-inch width. Although the tape is sometimes available in a variety of colors, the common silver tape works the best.

Apply the tape over the danger spots where blisters frequently occur. Don't apply tape where it is not needed. Use only a single thickness since additional layers become too hard and unyielding. When the tape is applied, that part of the foot should be flexed to its maximum extension. Cut the ends of the tape so they are rounded. If your feet are hairy, shave the parts where the tape will be applied.

Generally speaking, with duct tape do not tape all the way around toes or the foot because of possible circulation problems. If after applying tape, the skin or portion of the foot farthest from the body becomes discolored, cool, or numb, loosen the tape.

Denise Jones's Taping Techniques

Denise Jones's method uses Kinesio Tex and Micropore tapes, with tincture of benzoin as an adherent. She also uses plenty of foot lubricant, usually Bag Balm and/or Hydropel.

To prepare feet for taping, Denise insists you have to file down any calluses with a pedicure file so that if a blister develops it can be treated. If thick calluses are allowed to remain, they can prove next to impossible to get underneath to drain blisters, and those blisters become larger and more painful. Before taping, also make sure toenails are trimmed square and filed so no rough edges remain.

Kinesio Tex can be easily applied, is very sticky, smooth, and stretchy, and it breathes. Applied well, it forms a bond with the skin. The only downside is that it's fairly expensive. Micropore comes in a 1-inch width that is occasionally used on the big toes. Otherwise, use the 1⁄2-inch width for the toes and also to seal the edges of Kinesio Tex tape on large surfaces of skin. Denise has found that in extreme heat conditions, Elastikon and duct tape will not work and any tapes used need to be porous.

Denise uses the following taping method: Most importantly, when I use Kinesio Tex tape on the larger areas of the foot, it's imperative that tincture of benzoin is first swabbed onto the area where the edges will be. This sticks the edges of the tape to the foot. Allow the tincture to become tacky, and then tape as flatly and neatly as possible. Then, around the perimeter of the edges I use the 1⁄2-inch Micropore to seal the edges. Otherwise, I have found that any tape rolls and creates a ridge that will blister. So, I stress that all tapes on the large areas of the foot are taped on the edges with Micropore tape. That means more tincture before placing the sealing of the edges. Micropore will not stick without tincture. Micropore tape is used on the toes, again preparing the toe with tincture first.

If the ends of the toes blister, then I tape over the top of the toe first, then around the toe to encase it like a glove. I make sure that all areas of the toe are secure with no gaps and no ridges. If a corner is bulky, I cut it off and secure it with more tincture. If one toe is taped and the toe next to it is not, make sure the tape is absolutely smooth so that the rubbing that occurs in running will not blister the untaped toe. After taping, use foot powder to keep feet dry within the socks.

If taping over a blister, Denise first uses Zeasorb foot powder to dry the feet before taping, and then she cleans the feet with an alcohol wipe. After taping, she puts more powder over any exposed benzoin. You should use 2nd Skin over blisters, but cut a hole in each blister for draining. This allows the runner to continue with little pain. It's the fluid in the blister that causes the pain.

Finally, pretape the night before a race and wear socks to bed to help the tape conform to the foot. If anything comes unstuck during the night, it can then be restuck.

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