Kinesiology Taping the Achilles Tendon and Calf

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This is one of my personal favorites, having experienced a nasty calf tear while playing badminton about 4 years ago! I wish I had known about kinesiology taping then!

Walking around my own sports medicine clinic, dragging my leg behind me like Kwasimoto, was certainly a humbling experience.

Without the ability to “toe-off” (or rise up to push off with each step), the only choice for forward movement is dragging the afflicted leg along the floor. After a week of leg-dragging and a month of pain, I was able to do most things “normally”.

But the saga of my calf tear holds a much more significant role for this website. It was the reason I tried kinesiology tape on myself. Even years after the original injury, I still had discomfort when I ran more than 3 kilometers. The spring my colleague sent me some kinesiology tape was precisely when I was having doubts about ever doing more than a brief jog again (and this is a hard pill to swallow for a once competent triathlete).

You can guess the results of the experiment on my calf – significant improvement in muscular endurance and comfort! Don’t misunderstand, one trial on myself was hardly enough proof to start mummifying my own patients with tape but it did start the ball rolling…or in this case, the aging doctor/athlete running!

Anatomy

The Achilles tendon is the thickest, strongest tendon of the human body and attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone. The Achilles and calf muscles also play a vital role in upright posture due to the many vibration-sensing spindles within the tissue.

Unfortunately the Achilles tendon does not have a very good blood supply, making it slow to heal once injured. And speaking of injuries…

 

Injuries

  • Achilles tendonitis is local inflammation of the tendon that feels stiff and sore but may also result in a lump within the tendon in longstanding cases
  • tear may affect both the calf muscle and/or the Achilles tendon and is a partial separation of the tissue
  • An Achilles rupture is a complete separation of the tendon from the bone

Why?

The most common causes of Achilles and/or calf muscle injuries are overuse during athletic pursuits, like running, or unfamiliar strenuous activities such as painting on a ladder all weekend. Tears and ruptures are most often due to a sudden stop or change in direction (sound like anyone we know?)

Treatment

Rest, ice, compression, wearing running shoes and in the case of rupture, surgical repair (ouch!)

Achilles-tapingAchilles Tendon Kinesiology Taping

*It is essential to undergo a proper medical examination prior applying tape. There are serious conditions such as blood clots that can mimic Achilles tendonitis/calf cramping!

Refer to the Kinesiology Taping Basics section for details on how to apply tape properly. For some taping applications you may need assistance from another person…this being one of them!

Technique

Measure and pre-cut the 2 pieces of tape.

1. Lie face down on a bed or couch with your foot hanging off the edge. Point your toes directly towards the floor or until you feel a comfortable stretch in the Achilles and/or calf muscle. Anchor a “stabilization” piece of tape well under your heel at mid arch. Run the tape over your heel and along your Achilles tendon ending above the belly of the calf muscle. Apply little to no stretch to tape. Relax your foot and rub down to activate tape adhesive.

2. Find the area of the most pain. Apply a “decompression” piece of tape using stretch, over the area of pain. Stretch the tape 50-75% in middle, laying down the ends with no stretch.

Calf Muscle Kinesiology Tapingcalf-taping

1. Anchor the “stabilization” strip at lower calf and run it towards the back of the knee. Apply little to no stretch to tape.

2. Apply decompression tape using middle stretch, right over the area that is fatigued/painful. Stretch tape 50-75% in middle, with no stretch at ends.