Sesamoiditis can be painful and interfere with your daily life.
While it’s best to see a doctor to figure out the best course of action, taping your foot can be a way to provide some support to the area and relief from pain.
Learning taping techniques for sesamoiditis should be an add-on therapy for support. It won’t help to cure or improve the condition; it will simply alleviate pain and make the condition more bearable for short periods of time.
With that being said, it’s worth learning how to tape your foot correctly so you can use these techniques when you need to.
What Is Sesamoiditis?
The two sesamoid bones in the foot are small bones in the base of the big toe. They aren’t connected to other bones—instead, they are embedded in the tendon that controls the big toe.
These tiny bones—each about the size of a pea—work with the tendon to lift and move the big toe. They also help to distribute your weight evenly across the foot and help to reduce strain on the foot.
Sesamoiditis is a painful condition in which the tendons that house the sesamoid bones become inflamed. This can be caused by repetitive motion, like walking or running.
The first symptom you may notice is a dull ache in the ball of the foot. Sesamoiditis develops gradually over time, and can progress from a dull ache to severe, throbbing pain in the front of the foot.
As sesamoiditis pain gets worse, you’ll find that you can no longer place weight on the big toe joint. The toe may also become stiff and immobile.
The pain will come and go and may be accompanied by swelling, redness, or bruising in the area of the sesamoid bones.
Those at risk of developing sesamoiditis include older people—as the foot’s fatty pad gets thinner—those with high arches, and people with conditions like osteoarthritis.
How Can Taping Help?
There are a number of benefits to taping your big toe when you have sesamoiditis.
You’ll find that taping limits the big toe’s movement so that it can’t over-extend, reducing the risk of further injury. It will also transfer some of the load and stress to the tape, allowing your big toe the space to heal.
The tape will help to keep the big toe in a neutral position, which can help to reduce the prominence of the sesamoids underneath the big toe. Not only does this help to reduce pressure, but it also helps to reduce friction and inflammation in the big toe joint.
When you tape the big toe, it will help to reposition the fatty pad in the forefoot under the big toe. This will provide better shock absorption, cushioning, and protection while your big toe heals.
You can tape your big toe and use a metatarsal pad placed on the big toe joint to alleviate more pressure. This will help your toes to splay naturally, alleviating pain and reducing inflammation.
What Tape Is Recommended?
For taping your big toe, you should use tape that’s thin, light, and slightly flexible.
Kinesio tape would be the best type to use when you’re taping your big toe. The tape is designed to act like a second skin, while it increases blood flow, reduces inflammation, and supports the injury.
One of the biggest benefits of KT tape is that you can leave it on your skin safely for up to a week. The tape won’t lose its adhesiveness and it’s quick-drying, so it won’t leave moisture on your skin.
You can also use Tensoplast or elastoplast to tape your big toe. These tapes are lightweight, have a slight stretch, and can provide some compression.
They’re also water-repellent, breathable, and can be used to provide support for a few days at a time.
Both the Kinesio and Tensoplast tape will provide enough rigidity to reduce the movement of the big toe, without having to change the tape daily.
How Tight Should the Tape Be?
When you’re taping your big toe—no matter which technique you use—you’ll need to make sure that you tape it firmly.
The tape shouldn’t be too tight so that it cuts off your blood circulation, causes numbness, or causes tingling in the big toe. Your toes and skin shouldn’t go red or white when you’ve applied the tape. If your skin or toes do change color, then you’d need to adjust the tape as it’s too tight.
With that being said, the tape shouldn’t be so loosely applied that you can’t feel the support or the big toe being pulled down into a neutral position.
Steps on How to Tape the Sesamoiditis in Conjunction With a Metatarsal Pad
1. Preparation of the Foot
Before you apply the tape to your foot, you may want to wash your foot and remove the fine, soft hair on your toes by shaving it off.
This will prevent the tape from possibly sticking to it, which will make the removal of the tape slightly more painful.
Make sure to check your foot for any cuts, scrapes, or rashes so that you can cover them with a non-stick wound pad before applying the tape.
2. Preparation of the Tape
For this taping technique, you’re going to need to measure the tape around the width of your forefoot.
Cut three strips of tape, making sure that they’re the same length and will be long enough to wrap around your forefoot. Place these to one side for the moment.
Then cut 4 smaller strips, about 1 inch wide, off the end of the tape. These smaller strips will be placed between your toes after completing the base layer.
Let’s start taping the big toe!
Take one of the three strips of tape that you cut, and remove the backing. Then wrap it around your forefoot just below your big toe joint, sticky-side up. This is your base layer. Make sure that the non-adhesive side is against your skin.
Use the second strip of tape and find the middle of the strip of tape. Start wrapping the tape around the big toe—also sticky-side up—so that one end of the tape is on the top of your foot and the other end is on the bottom.
The whole of the ball of your foot should now be covered with the tape.
To keep the tape in place and prevent it from slipping around, you’re going to use the 4 small strips—which are 1 inch wide—between the toes. Remove the backing from one strip and then twist it at both ends.
The strip should now look like a small bow. Place this between your big toe and second toe. One end should be on the top of your foot and the other end should be underneath the toe.
Repeat this step until you have placed the strips between all your toes.
Using your fingers, gently press the underneath of your big toe joint so that you can find the tender spot. Once you’ve found it, keep your finger there and then place the metatarsal pad over the tender spot—sesamoid bones.
With the base layers of the tape being sticky-side up, the metatarsal pad will stay in place. You can trim the metatarsal pad if the padding area is too big.
Take the last strip of tape and wrap it over the metatarsal pad, as well as around the entire forefoot. This last piece of tape will be wrapped around the forefoot sticky-side down.
Steps on How to Tape the Big Toe to Limit Range of Motion
For this taping method, you’re going to need to cut two pieces of tape. Measure and cut a piece of tape to stretch from the tip of the big toe to the middle of the arch of the foot.
Then tear the backing off of the tape and place the one end of tape at the base of your big toe. Wrap the tape around the base of the toe, coming underneath the big toe and around the outside of the toe, ending mid-way on top of your foot.
Take the second piece of tape and place the end between your big toe and second toe. Then wrap the tape around the top of your big toe, going underneath your foot so that the tape ends at the bottom of your small toe.
You can repeat these steps and add a second layer of tape, which will strengthen the support. It will limit the movement of the big toe and reduce pressure on the sesamoid bones.
The first step of this taping technique is to create a tab that will form the base of the anchor which will lift the toe joint upwards.
Cut your tape so that it’s about 6 inches long and fold the tape down the middle—breadth-wise—so that it sticks to itself. Leaving about 2 inches of tape on either side unstuck.
Now place the center of the tab over the sesamoid bones and stick the “wings” of the tab onto the bottom of your forefoot. You’ll have a piece of the tape sticking out from your big toe base joint.
Cut another piece of tape that’s long enough to wrap around the width of your forefoot once. Remove the backing of the tape and place one end on the outside of your small toe to anchor the tape.
Wrap the tape underneath the ball of your foot, over the tab—the tab should be folded over facing away from your small toe.
As you come to the outside of your big toe, apply some tension on the tape. This will help to lift—invert—the forefoot as you continue to lay the tape over the top of your foot.
To reinforce the support, take a second piece of tape and place the end of the tape just under the small toe. You’ll want to wrap this tape on the top half of the first layer of tape that you wrapped around your foot.
As you come around your big toe joint, apply tension to the tape again so you pull the inversion in slightly, ending on the top of your foot by the small toe.