Bunions can be a nuisance for many reasons. One, they change the shape of your feet and can make fitting into your shoes difficult, as well as making the process of buying new shoes tricky. Two, they can be painful and cause you discomfort throughout the day.
There are several ways to make life with bunions easier. Bunion correctors, choosing your shoes carefully, and using bunion socks can all help. But one specific thing that’s easy, effective, and can make a big difference: bunion taping for support and pain relief.
Here’s everything you need to know about bunion taping, why you should be doing it, and how to get it right to feel relief and start living your life to the fullest again.
What is Bunion Taping?
Bunion taping is the action of wrapping KT tape around the affected foot in such a way that it provides support to the MTP joint, which is the joint most affected by a bunion.
Proper taping not only supports this joint, making it easier to walk comfortably and wear shoes comfortably but also relieves pressure and eases pain.
Often, taping also includes separating the toes with foam or padding to position the big toe in more of a straight line, as it would naturally be without the bunion.
Can Taping Help Relieve Bunion Pain?
Bunion taping might not seem very helpful to treat bunions, but it can be surprisingly good at relieving pain associated with bunions. When done right, it realigns the MTP joint and the big toe, significantly reducing the pressure on the bones and the surrounding tissues.
This alone can alleviate pain in the joint, making waking and even standing easier and less painful. But using KT tape also has the bonus of lifting the skin slightly, encouraging better circulation in the area. This brings extra nutrient-rich blood to the painful area to start healing and pain-relieving.
Benefits of Bunion Taping
Once you learn bunion taping and you start taping your foot regularly, you’ll start to notice that it has many benefits. They include:
As mentioned above, taping your bunions can greatly affect your pain level for various reasons. It’s an easy way to find relief without the need for medication.
Improved Foot Alignment
Bunion taping helps to bring that MTP joint back into its proper alignment. The joint’s misalignment causes many problems associated with bunions, like inflammation, as the surrounding tissues are under pressure.
Taping helps straighten the toe and get that joint back where it should be. The pressure is gentle, and being back in position contributes greatly to pain relief as the pressure is relieved on the surrounding tissues.
Support and Stability
Taping provides a surprising amount of support to the affected toe joint. As the tape is stretchy and adheres to your skin, it stays in place once it’s applied, providing strong support for a long period of time, and keeping the joint aligned even through movement.
Reduced Inflammation and Swelling
Another benefit that comes with correct alignment is lower reduced inflammation and swelling. When the MTP joint is out of position, pressure is placed on the tissues, nerves, and ligaments around the bone.
This causes them to become inflamed, which may worsen the pain and cause your foot to swell, making it harder to fit comfortably into shoes. Taping can fix this, at least for as long as the tape is on, as the realignment of the joint allows for fluid to disperse.
With a lower pain level, less swelling, and a more natural joint position, your comfort is bound to improve. You’ll find it easier to wear shoes, stand or walk for longer periods, and live your life without being held back by your bunions.
What Tape Should You Use?
You can use zinc oxide tape, but we recommend choosing KT tape for taping bunions. It’s stretchy, strong, and helps pull the skin upwards slightly, increasing circulation, which zinc oxide tape doesn’t.
Zinc oxide tape is more rigid than KT tape, so if you feel like KT tape is too flexible, you can try ZO tape. But if you’ve never tried either and you’re wondering which to try first, KT tape is our top choice!
Are There Any Negatives to Bunion Taping?
Bunion taping provides relief, but you do need to be careful with it. Remember that your feet swell a little during the day, which may cause the tape to feel tight and uncomfortable, especially if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day.
If this is the case, you may want to take it off and reapply in the afternoon, although that may feel like you’re going through a lot of tape very quickly.
Robust taping may also make it difficult to fit your feet into close-fitting shoes like dress shoes or formal shoes. If your job requires this kind of footwear, it could help to see if concessions could be made for you due to your foot condition.
Lastly, taping your bunions can take some time, especially when you’re still learning how to do it. However, we strongly advise doing it in the morning or before activity—it’s worth the time taken!
Step-By-Step Guide: How to Tape Your Bunion
You can tape your feet at any time of the day or night when you need relief. There’s never a wrong time to do this! However, if you plan on doing some kind of activity, try to tape it about an hour before. This will allow your foot to “settle” into the tape.
Get Your Supplies Together
We highly recommend using KT tape, so that’s what we’re doing here! You’ll need 2 strips—one that’s been cut into two smaller pieces horizontally and one that’s been cut in half down the middle, vertically, so you have two thinner strips that are the same length as the full strip.
Prepare the Foot for Taping
Never apply tape to a dirty foot. Not only does this put you at risk of developing foot odor and infections, but it also reduces the stickiness of the tape and may make the taping less effective.
Wash the feet thoroughly, making sure to get rid of any hint of oils, lotions, and soap. Pat the feet dry. This is your starting point for taping.
Tape the Foot
The best position to start is sitting on a chair or the edge of the bed and putting your affected ankle on the opposite knee. Now to tape.
Using one of the thinner strips and beginning just underneath the outer ankle, wrap it around the back of the heel to form a C-shaped “heel cup.” There should be no stretch in this piece.
Around midway up the arch, you want to apply about an 80 percent stretch to the tape. This means you’ll stretch it to about 1.6 times its unstretched length!
Anchor it at the side of the MTP joint. The rest of that strip can be stuck along the side of the big toe without any stretch. If you feel it’s not supportive enough, you can lay the second strip along the top of this one, but you don’t have to.
Apply one of the thicker pieces at 80 percent stretch, placing the middle down first right over the bunion, with one end running underneath the forefoot and the other end running above the foot—both with no stretch. You can add the second one for extra support.
Don’t Forget to Activate the Adhesive!
You must activate the adhesive by rubbing it vigorously once it’s stuck on your foot. Be careful not to hurt your bunion, but rub the tape until it’s warm-ish so you know it’s stuck!