Plantar Fasciitis Taping: The Research Behind 3 Taping Methods
Taping is one of the most common (and most popular!) types of treatments for plantar fasciitis and other forms of heel pain. It is affordable, easy to do from home, and provides instant pain relief for most people.
However, there are still a lot of questions about taping for plantar fasciitis. What is the difference between different types of taping? How effective is it in the short and long term? What type of research is there to back up the claim that taping is an effective form of heel pain treatments?
Keep reading for a peek into the clinical research behind 3 different types of plantar fasciitis taping: Kinesio Tape, LDT, and Calcaneal Taping.
Kinesiology Taping for Heel Pain
Kinesio Tape is an elastic therapeutic tape which provides support to muscles and joints, while also promoting healing by gently pulling the skin, facilitating better lymphatic drainage. Kinesio taping is not exclusive to heel pain or plantar fasciitis, but is very common for joint and muscle injuries all over the body.
Kinesio taping provides immediate pain relief, while also aiding in the long-term treatment of plantar fasciitis. A recent research review revealed that KT tape is more effective than minimal intervention; however taping became even more effective when combined with exercise therapy1.
How to Use KT Tape for Plantar Fasciitis
There are a variety of methods of applying kinesiology tape for heel pain. We have heard positive things about this method, but a quick search on Pinterest for “plantar fasciitis kinesio tape” will show you photos and how-to guides of other methods. Your doctor, podiatrist, or physical therapist might also have a favorite taping method they can recommend.
Once you have applied the KT tape, you can keep it on for as long as 3 days or until it begins to fall off. Using the tape in combination with therapeutic foot exercises and stretches, and orthotic shoe inserts will provide the best, longest-lasting results.
Low-Dye taping (LDT) reduces the tension in the arch of the foot similar to an external splint, running parallel to the plantar fascia ligament. It involves taping the outside of the foot from the first metatarsal to the fifth metatarsal, with additional pieces of tape horizontally along the arch of the foot.
In a recent review of five research studies, all five found that LDT significantly reduced heel pain. Additionally, it was revealed that LDT improves foot stability and corrects weight distribution. LDT was also found to be more effective than calcaneal taping2.
How to Use LDT for Heel Pain
LDT is a great temporary solution for heel pain that can be used during activity. If you are waiting for your next doctor’s appointment or waiting for your Heel Seats to arrive in the mail, taping your feet in the meantime will help protect them and reduce pain.
Calcaneal Taping involves taping the underside of the heel using medical tape. It inverts the calcaneus so that it is closer to neutral alignment, which increases the medial longitudinal arch height.
One study found that calcaneal taping was more effective than stretching alone, a fake taping method, or no treatment at all3. It provides both immediate pain relief and improved foot biomechanics.
How to Use Calcaneal Taping for Heel Pain
Similar to LDT, calcaneal taping can be applied prior to activity to reduce heel pain. It is best to combine calcaneal taping with other treatment methods such as orthotics and stretching, or to use as a bridge between long-term therapies such as when you are waiting for your Heel Seats to arrive.
The Bottom Line
There are dozens of research studies examining the effectiveness of a variety of taping methods for heel pain, and the majority of them come to the same conclusion: taping can be a great way to relieve pain, but is much more effective when combined with other types of treatments.
If you are planning on being particularly active (for example, running a half marathon or walking around the zoo all day), it’s a good idea to tape your feet in addition to wearing your orthotic inserts. Other ideas for combining treatments include:
- Stretching and doing foot exercises
- Icing the bottom of your feet
- Physical therapy
- Lim, Edwin Choon Wyn, and Mathew Guo Xiang Tay. “Kinesio Taping in Musculoskeletal Pain and Disability that Lasts for More than 4 Weeks: Is it Time to Peel Off the Tape and Throw it Out with the Sweat? A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis Focused on Pain and also Methods of Tape Application.” British journal of sports medicine 49.24 (2015): 1558. ProQuest. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.
- Verbruggen, L. A., Thompson, M. M., & Durall, C. J. (2016). The effectiveness of low-dye taping in reducing pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, , 1-15. doi:10.1123/jsr.2016-0030
- Podolsky, R., & Kalichman, L. (2015). Taping for plantar fasciitis. Journal of back and musculoskeletal rehabilitation, 28(1), 1-6.