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Knee taping is a practice that’s used to relieve knee pain. It’s also done to improve knee support, which may treat and prevent various injuries.
The practice involves applying special tape around the knee. The tape is placed on specific locations, which is said to manage pain by controlling muscles and joints.
If you have any medical conditions that might affect your circulation, talk to your doctor first.
If you’d like to try knee taping, consult a physical therapist or sports medicine doctor first. It’s supplemental to other treatments, which may include therapeutic exercise and NSAIDs. Plus, there are many types of knee taping techniques.
A method that works for someone else might not work for you, even if you have the same knee issue.
Let’s discuss four common taping techniques, along with supplies and tips.
Knee taping is often done to improve knee stability. It can help minimize pain and excessive range of motion during physical activity.
Usually, the techniques below are used to treat issues like overuse injuries or patellofemoral problems. They can also help prevent future injuries by enhancing knee stability.
The taping should be tight enough to support the knee, but not tight enough to cut off circulation.
With kinesiology tape for full kneecap support
Kinesiology tape is a very stretchy sports tape. It’s thought to provide support by stabilizing joints and muscles. You can find many brands of kinesiology tape on the market.
In the following method, kinesiology tape is used for full kneecap support. This is ideal for patellofemoral pain syndrome or pain around your patella (kneecap) in the front of your knee. The condition, also known as “runner’s knee,” may be caused by overuse or patella tracking disorder.
- kinesiology tape
- clean skin
To tape your knee:
- Measure from the tibial tubercle (bump under your kneecap) to your quadriceps tendon. Cut two tape strips of equal length. Round the ends to minimize peeling.
- Sit on a bench and bend your knee. Peel the first inch of one strip. Secure outside the tibial tubercle without stretch.
- Stretch the tape to 40 percent. Wrap the tape around the inner knee, following its natural curve. Secure the end without stretch. Rub the tape to activate the adhesive.
- Repeat with the second strip along the outer knee, crossing the ends to form an X.
- Cut a strip of tape long enough to wrap under the kneecap. Straighten your knee slightly.
- Peel the tape from the center. Stretch to 80 percent and apply under your kneecap. Wrap the tape along your hamstrings and secure the ends.
Kinesiology tape can stay on the skin for 3 to 5 days. Check the product’s packaging for specific details.
With the McConnell taping technique
Like kinesiology taping, the McConnell technique is used to improve knee stability. It’s designed to manage patella tracking disorder and pain by increasing structural support.
For this technique, you’ll need:
- 2-inch wide adhesive gauze (to protect your skin)
- 1 1/2-inch wide rigid non-elastic medical tape
Always start with clean skin. To use the McConnell knee taping method:
- Cut two strips of adhesive gauze and one strip of rigid tape. The strips should be long enough to cover your kneecap, about 3 to 5 inches.
- Sit on a bench. Extend your knee and relax your quadriceps. Place both strips of adhesive gauze over your kneecap.
- Secure the non-elastic tape on the outer edge of the kneecap. Pull the strip toward the inner knee. At the same time, push the soft tissue on the inner knee toward the kneecap.
- Secure the end of the tape on the inner edge of the kneecap.
Typically, this tape can stay on the skin for 18 hours.
Depending on your sport and symptoms, the rigid tape may be applied in other directions. A physical therapist can help you determine the ideal option.
If you have knee pain, taping may help. The following techniques are designed to manage specific types of discomfort.
For medial knee pain
Medial knee pain occurs on the inside of your knee. Inner knee pain has many causes, including:
- kinesiology tape
- clean skin
To apply the tape:
- Cut one 10-inch strip of tape. Round off the ends.
- Sit on a bench, knee bent to 90 degrees.
- Peel the first inch of tape. Secure below your inner knee, on the upper part of your calf muscle.
- Stretch the tape to 10 percent and wrap along the inner knee. Rub the tape to activate the adhesive.
- Cut two 5-inch strips of tape. Round off the ends. Peel one strip from the center, stretch to 80 percent, and apply diagonally on the site of pain. Secure the end.
- Repeat with the second strip to create an “X.”
For anterior knee pain
If you have pain in the front and center of your knee, it’s called anterior knee pain. It’s commonly caused by patellofemoral pain syndrome or knee arthritis.
Often, the first technique mentioned in this article (for full kneecap support) is used for this issue. But you can try a similar method with pre-cut Y-shaped tape.
You’ll need clean skin and two Y strips (one long and one short).
- Cut the long Y strip to 1 to 2 feet. Sit on the edge of a bench, knee bent.
- Peel the first inch of tape. Secure in the middle of the thigh. Split the Y and remove the backing.
- Stretch the tails to 25 to 50 percent. Apply on each side of the kneecap. Rub to activate the adhesive.
- Peel the first inch of the small Y strip. Secure on the outer side of the kneecap, split the Y, and remove the backing.
- Stretch the tails to 50 percent. Apply the tails above and below the kneecap. Rub to activate.
Knee tape can adhere quite well. When it’s time to take it off, consider these suggestions:
Tips for removing kinesiology tape
To comfortably remove kinesiology tape:
- Apply oil. Baby oil or olive oil can loosen the adhesive. Rub oil on the tape, wait 15 to 30 minutes, then remove it in the shower.
- Remove it slowly. Avoid removing the tape too fast, which may irritate or damage your skin.
- Roll away the tape. Roll the tape back on itself. Compared to pulling, rolling is less painful.
- Move in the direction of hair growth. This minimizes irritation to your skin and hair follicles.
- Tug the skin. While peeling the tape, use your other hand to tug the skin in the opposite direction. This is said to decrease discomfort.
Other types of tape
Your physical therapist might recommend other types of supplies, like adhesive gauze tape. Try the above tips if you have difficulty removing them.
You can also:
- Take a warm bath or shower. Like baby oil, warm water may help break down the adhesive.
- Apply lotion. This can help loosen the sticky backing.
- Apply ice. Try applying an ice pack to release the tape.
Knee taping is used to manage pain and improve support. It can enhance your exercise ability, whether you’re recovering from an injury or feeling discomfort. It should not constrict blood flow, rather give support.
Since there are many ways to tape a knee, it’s best to consult a professional. They can show you the best technique and application for your symptoms.
When combined with a therapeutic exercise program, knee taping can help you find relief.