If you suffer from metatarsalgia, one of the easiest ways to relieve the pain and discomfort is by taping your foot.
It’s simple to do and you may likely already have tape lying around. By taping your foot, you may find that the pain improves to the point where your daily activity is much easier to tolerate.
Learning metatarsalgia taping techniques is important to ensure that the pressure from the tape is placed on the right spot of the foot.
Let’s have a look at how to tape your feet for the best and most effective results.
What Is Metatarsalgia?
Metatarsalgia is a “catch-all” phrase that’s used to describe pain you feel in your forefoot. This pain is often a symptom of an underlying foot condition that causes inflammation in the surrounding soft tissue.
The pain you feel in the ball of your foot could be caused by one of the following conditions:
Metatarsalgia can develop if you have an unusual foot structure, like a hypermobile first foot bone, flat feet, or high arches.
You could also be at a higher risk of developing metatarsalgia if you have tight calves, tight Achilles tendons, weak toe flexors, or tight toe extensors.
As you get older, you can start to lose the protective fat pad in the ball of your foot. This will make the metatarsal heads more prominent, and they’re placed under increased stress. This can cause pain in the ball of your foot.
Overpronation can also lead to you developing metatarsalgia, as it places excessive pressure on the metatarsals and it contributes to uneven weight distribution. This can weaken the structure of your foot over time.
High-impact activities such as running or jumping can irritate the soft tissues around the bone, especially when the activity has repetitive motion.
When you carry extra weight or you are obese, the metatarsal bones are subjected to excessive pressure when you move around. Over time, you may develop metatarsalgia due to this overuse.
Wearing shoes that don’t provide adequate support, have a narrow toe box, or are ill-fitting can also cause metatarsalgia. All these factors put acute pressure on the metatarsals and shift your body weight unevenly.
The main symptom of metatarsalgia is tenderness or pain in the ball of the foot, which can feel worse when you walk or put pressure on the foot. It can feel as though there’s a pebble in your shoe or that the sock has bunched up under the ball of the foot.
You may feel a dull ache, a sharp shooting pain, or even a burning sensation in the ball of your foot. You might also experience numbness in your toes.
How Does Taping Help?
Taping is very effective in treating metatarsalgia, as it reduces the amount of pressure that’s placed on the forefoot.
It helps your metatarsal bones to splay naturally, which reduces the inflammation and allows the surrounding soft tissue to heal. The tape will also reposition the fat pad under the metatarsals to protect and cushion them from further injury.
It’s best to use Kinesiology tape, as it creates a small amount of pull on the skin, which can increase blood circulation. The layer of tape will also add some extra cushioning and protection to the forefoot, so you can carry on with your daily activities.
The Kinesiology tape helps to keep the metatarsal bones in their correct alignment without placing the bones under pressure. This alleviates pain and reduces inflammation in the forefoot.
You’ll also find that the Kinesiology tape will improve your body’s awareness which reduces the risk of further injury.
Metatarsalgia Taping With Triple Strips
Before applying the Kinesiology tape, clean your foot by adding a bit of rubbing alcohol to a cloth. Then wipe the ball of your foot, down the center of your foot to the back of the Achilles tendon.
Prepare the tape by measuring 2 pieces of tape—each 2 inches wide—that are long enough to wrap around the ball of your foot, with each edge ending on the outside of your foot.
The third strip of tape is going to be longer. Put one end of the tape in the center of the ball of your foot, take it down 90 degrees, under your heel, until it reaches the back of your Achilles tendon. Now cut the tape.
Round the corners of all three strips of tape after you’ve cut the tape to length. This will prevent the tape from catching on your sock or shoes.
Fold the first strip of tape in half and break the backing paper in half and then peel the backing paper off from the middle, leaving about an ½-inch of the backing paper on either edge.
Lift your toes up slightly—dorsiflexion—and apply about a 50 percent stretch to both ends of the strip. Then place the tape over the entire width of the ball of the foot, making sure to keep the stretch to the center of the tape.
Make sure that two ends of this strip are on either side of the forefoot, and that these anchor ends don’t have any stretch to them.
Repeat the process with the second strip of tape about an inch lower down, making sure that the second strip covers half of the first strip.
Take the longer strip of tape and break the backing paper on one end first. This will help to create an anchor point.
Then apply the edge of the tape to the center of the ball of the foot, downwards from the base of your toes. There should be no stretch to either end of the tape that will be your anchor.
That’s your first anchor point. Peel back the rest of the paper backing, leaving a little bit on the other edge.
Bring the rest of the tape down towards, sticking it to the bottom of the foot and around the back of your heel. You’ll want to apply about an 80 percent stretch and anchor it just over the Achilles tendon.
You’ll know that you’ve applied the strips of tape properly by standing and taking a walk around. You should be able to put your foot down evenly on the floor without any pain.
If it feels as though you’re walking on the outer edges of your feet, then the tape could have a bit too much stretch. You’d need to then remove the strips and apply it again.