Sports tape is one of the most versatile tools a person can have. Most people think it should only be used when you have an injury or when playing a sport, but did you know you can use it to provide your feet with more arch support?
You might need more support in the arch of your foot for many reasons. In the cases where you only need the support for a short time, or for a particular occasion, taping can be useful.
Here’s how to use tape for arch support, as well as what it can help with and some extra measures to take if you need stronger support.
Can Tape Provide Arch Support?
Yes, taping the arch can provide support and stability to the foot. It does so by lifting the arch and supporting it in the lifted position, keeping it in a more stable position.
However, it’s important to know that taping for arch support is a temporary measure. Especially during exercise, the tape doesn’t hold for a long time, so it might be more appropriate as emergency support rather than something you rely on for a long time.
What Can Arch Taping Help With?
Even though it’s temporary, taping for arch support can provide relief and support for many different foot conditions. One of the most common is plantar fasciitis, which presents with pain in the arch.
The arch is designed to absorb shock, but when it’s inflamed, every step causes pain. Taping can provide much-needed support, keeping the arch in its optimal position so the inflammation can subside and lower pain.
Taping the arch can also be a temporary measure for overpronation. It may stop the foot from rolling in, reducing strain and pain associated with overpronating. However, it should be followed up with a more permanent solution if it succeeds.
Adding extra support to the arch can also alleviate pain caused by Achilles tendonitis, posterior tibial tendonitis, turf toe, and shin splints.
How to Use Tape for Arch Support
You can use regular sports tape or KT tape to support the arch. We particularly like KT tape, as it lifts the skin a little more and allows for better circulation, among other benefits.
But you can use whatever you have available, as long as it’s flexible enough to allow for natural movement while still supporting the arch. Keep in mind that different taping techniques work better with certain tape, so check what the technique uses first.
Before you tape, wash and dry your foot properly. Make sure there’s no lotion or oil on them, or the tape won’t hold.
Technique 1: Navicular Sling
Measure a strip of sports tape that reaches from the middle of your arch to the middle of the top of your foot. Place your foot on your opposite knee as you’re sitting, which will allow you to reach it and apply the tape with ease.
Stick one end of the tape strip in the middle of your arch, facing the inside of your foot. You want to grab your foot with the opposite hand and twist it—making sure there’s no pain—until the bottom of the foot is facing upwards.
From there, pull the tape tight and wrap it around the foot, sticking it firmly over the top of the foot. You can do up to three layers of this strip to reinforce the support.
Technique 2: KT Tape Support
If you’ve got KT tape, this is the technique we suggest using. Prepare one full strip of tape and two half strips. You want to begin with your foot in a stretched position—you can place your heel on the floor and flex your toes to the sky, so your plantar fascia is stretched.
Tear off a 2-inch piece of the backing on one end of the full strip. This will be your first anchor point. Place it on the ball of the foot, with the rest of the tape running downwards towards the heel. There should be no stretch in this anchor section.
Peel back the rest of the backing and lay the tape down along the bottom of the foot and up the back of the heel with a moderate stretch. Rub it vigorously to activate the adhesive.
Then, tear the backing down the middle of one of the half strips. You want to place the strip across the arch with moderate stretch. Each end of the strip should come up over the side of the foot with no stretch.
Do the same with the second half strip, but place it underneath the heel rather than the arch. You can add an extra strip over the arch strip if you need more support.
Technique 3: Rigid Tape
This technique works best with rigid tape, although you can try it with other types of tape if you want to. Hold your foot in the flexed position again—heel on the floor and toes flexed upwards.
Your first step is to apply an anchor strip on the forefoot. You should stick the strip down just below the base of the big toe joint, running across the foot. Stick it down firmly underneath the foot and anchor it on top of the foot.
For your second anchor, start on the inside of the foot by placing a piece of tape on the first anchor and running it down the inner side of the foot to the heel. The tape should be pulled tight before it’s smoothed down.
Bring it around the heel and up the outside of the foot, anchoring it on the other side of the first anchor tape. From here, you will start at the heel and layer a few strips of tape across the foot, each one moving upwards a little until the foot is covered.
Begin by laying a small strip across the heel, from the outer edge, running under the heel, and anchoring on the inner edge. Then place another, slightly longer piece of tape above this one, overlapping with it, also from the outer edge to the inner edge.
Continue layering strips of tape in this way, until the arch is covered. Make sure the tape is pulled fairly tight each time. Once these are done, apply another round-the-heel anchor to keep these strips properly in place, and another outer anchor around the forefoot.
Other Ways to Support the Arch
As taping should always be considered a temporary solution, if you need arch support you should look for more permanent ways of providing it. These are the two most common and effective ways to provide arch support.
Change Your Shoes
If your shoes aren’t giving you the arch support you need, you may need to shop around. It’s a good idea to measure your feet and ensure you’re buying the right shoe size so the support is in the right place.
Also, figure out your pronation type so you know what kind of support you need. You may need to opt for a stability shoe instead of a neutral shoe, as it comes with extra built-in support to support the arch.
Or, if your overpronation is severe, you may want to try a motion control shoe. These have more robust support to hold the foot in place and support it where it needs extra stability.
If you don’t want to replace your shoes completely, you can try an insole first. Look for insoles that match your arch type—high arches or flat feet—and replace the ones in your shoes with the new, more supportive ones.
You may find that this provides the arch support you need in a non-intrusive, stable, and comfortable way. It will also save you from having to buy completely new shoes!