The Tape Trap: Updated thoughts on KT Tape

It's literally glowing. Can you hear the angel chorus?

It’s literally glowing. Can you hear the angel chorus?

I originally said that I really liked KT Tape and that it helped me out a lot with alleviating the pain I was feeling from my IT band. Back story: I started using KT Tape back in December when the pain from some IT band trouble was making it difficult and oftentimes impossible for me to continue running. It hurt and it hurt badly, and with Dopey on the horizon I needed something that was going to help get me through the next few weeks of running and the Challenge itself.

The tape helped. During the marathon, my right knee (which had originally been the one that bothered me) stopped hurting and I was able to get through the races. The problem was that as I passed each mile marker for the marathon, my left (untaped) knee kept getting worse. By the end I couldn’t bend my knee anymore.

In April, I ran taped for the Nike 1/2 and at the end, I definitely felt the twinge in my left knee going down stairs, but was able to walk normally and I (in my entirely unscientific reading of the situation) attribute that to the tape.

Over the last 5 months the pain has come and gone but returned with a vengeance during the Brooklyn Half Marathon two weeks ago (where, due to a defective roll of KT Tape, I couldn’t get the tape to stick to anything so I had to go tape-less).  By the end of the half marathon, I was in the same situation I found myself in during the WDW marathon in January: I couldn’t bend my knee and compensating for that pain meant I was getting new pains in my right leg. So this is why KT Tape was the subject of many an angry Twitter message.

Surprise! The tape became kind of a crutch and sometimes masked the pain but wasn’t doing much to actually eliminate the underlying problem. I’ve now sent out KT Tape samples to two different people like some kind of drug dealer, but I honestly think it’s made it possible for me to run.

Screen shot 2014-01-29 at 7.44.27 PMHaving said that, though, I also think that the tape use helped me in the short term and is coming back to bite me in the ass in the long term. I didn’t address whatever the problem is that was causing the pain in the first place, and I don’t know about anyone else but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life dependent on this glorified duct tape and its magical properties. Brooklyn taught me that. If something’s wrong and I want to be a long term runner I need to address it with more than just a Band Aid.

So the moral of this story is that yes, I think the KT Tape helped me keep running, but using it and dulling the pain shouldn’t stop you from addressing whatever is causing the pain in the first place.

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8 thoughts on “The Tape Trap: Updated thoughts on KT Tape

  1. That is the way I have always felt about KT Tape. There is someone at my gym who has a uniform of it and all I can think of is ouch both for their pocket book and injuries that they are attempting to ignore.

    Does this mean you are going to check with a doc for your IT Band? Or at least get some physio and exercises to fix it (i recommend clam shells, big time).
    ~Lisa

  2. Being a KT and Rock Tape addict myself, I know what you’re feeling. After taking 4 months off from running completely (thank you ITBS Idiot), I’ve started back slowly. WITHOUT THE TAPE. I’m scerred. Really screrred. But so far, so good. Perhaps I’ve broken my addiction. Something I’m sure my walet will be happy about…

  3. As the recipient of one of your dealer mailings, I thank you immensely and swear it got me through the few weeks I had localized shin pain (that I finally decided wasn’t the beginning of a stress fracture, woof).

    I have since bought my own roll of tape for flare-ups but I have been running tape-free (and mostly pain-free, besides a few twinges here and there) since the week before the Brooklyn Half. Two years ago, I bought a knee brace strap thingy after I was coming off of runner’s knee, and I relied on that thing for a full six months. I wore it through the 2013 WDW Marathon. But soon after, I realized all my pain was now in my other leg, probably because my once-bad knee was no longer bad and now had a boost that my other leg didn’t have, so it was compensating. I almost bought another strap but Markers yelled at me, saying I “didn’t need it,” and took the one I had and threw it away. Haven’t run with one since.

    SO WHAT I AM SAYING IS I AGREE WITH YOU, TAPE/BRACES/WHATEVER SHOULD BE A LAST RESORT SITUATION. Like, say, the 2015 WDW Marathon after we’ve been running for the previous three days…

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