- 1 What is plantar fasciitis?
- 2 What materials do I need for taping?
- 3 How do I apply the tape?
- 4 Does Kinesiology Therapeutic (KT) tape help plantar fasciitis?
- 5 Will an ACE bandage help plantar fasciitis?
- 6 Should I tape plantar fasciitis at night?
- 7 What are the benefits of taping for plantar fasciitis?
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain in adults, affecting more than 1 million Americans each year.
The plantar fascia is a fibrous ligament stretching along the bottom of the foot from the toes to the heel bone and is responsible for absorbing the shock forces on your foot.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when too much strain is put on the plantar fascia ligament, causing it to become irritated and inflamed.  Individuals with plantar fasciitis can typically recover within a few months of conservative treatment.
Several ways to manage plantar fasciitis pain include rest, icing, stretching, and taping.
What materials do I need for taping?
Ideally, the tape should be adequately rigid to immobilize the joints, but also flexible enough to wrap around your foot. Typically, taping for Plantar Fasciitis is done with zinc oxide tape.
This durable cotton tape is frequently referred to as “white athletic tape”, as most athletes use it to prevent hyperflexion injuries and help injured joints heal faster.
Zinc oxide tape is more rigid than other athletic tape, allowing for better stabilization of muscles and joints. Also, it is water-resistant, easy to handle, very adhesive, and can withstand high tensile load. 
Other tapes may be used if they are rigid, pliable, tacky, and durable.
How do I apply the tape?
There are various taping techniques used in clinical practice, but existing literature reports that the calcaneal taping technique is one of the easiest and most effective techniques. 
With this method, the plantar fascia is supported and somewhat immobilized, but the foot retains some mobility.
Taping can either be applied first thing in the morning to reduce strain on the plantar fascia along the day or just before exercise. In either case, the affected foot should be cleaned and dry before applying the tape. 
Step 1: The Brace Piece
The first strip of tape should be placed across the metatarsals, around the ball of the foot. This first step primarily serves to provide adhesion for the other pieces of tape. 
Step 2: The Arch Strap
First, the subtalar joint should be resting in a neutral position, with the shin bone in alignment with the second toe. Attach one end of the tape at the base of the big toe and run it along the medial arch of the foot.
Next, wrap the tape around the heel, along the lateral arch, and connect it to the tape near the pinky toe. Be sure to stretch the tape with tension to prevent any wrinkles.
Another layer may be applied for additional support. 
Step 3: The X Straps
Anchor one end of a piece of tape to the ball of your foot, wrap it across the sole of your foot, around the heel, and pull it across the sole to attach to the other side of the ball of your foot.
The tape should form an ‘X’ across the sole of the foot. To ensure that the plantar fascia is supported, apply two more pieces of tape in this same X formation.
Press the tape down so it runs smoothly across the foot without wrinkles. Excess tape should be trimmed as necessary. 
Step 4: Horizontal Support
Apply several pieces of tape horizontally across the width of the foot. The tape should be placed in a way in which the sole of the foot, from the ball to the heel, is completely covered in tape. 
Does Kinesiology Therapeutic (KT) tape help plantar fasciitis?
Kinesiology Therapeutic tape is another effective option for foot taping and can help stabilize the foot ligament and limit unnecessary pronation. Because KT tape is made from cotton, spandex, and adhesive, it has more elasticity than zinc oxide tape.
Therefore, when being applied to the foot, it should be stretched to create enough tension to keep the joints and ligaments in place.
In contrast to athletic tape, which primarily immobilizes the plantar fascia, KT tape works by lightly pulling at the skin to increase blood flow and reduce swelling.
Many patients also find KT to be less irritating to the skin. While this tape can also be effective to help with plantar fasciitis pain, it may require a more skilled application than normal athletic tape; a demonstration from a physical therapist may be necessary. 
Will an ACE bandage help plantar fasciitis?
An ACE wrap bandage is an elastic cotton wrap that aims to provide additional compression and support to injuries. This specific type of wrap bandage is made without adhesive, meaning it should not cause any irritation to sensitive skin. However, because the material is more flexible and does not adhere to the skin, it will provide lighter support than either Zinc Oxide or KT tape. Individuals who lead a more active lifestyle might not receive enough support from the ACE wrap bandage and should consider using a stiffer tape to prevent the ligament from moving during physical activity. 
Should I tape plantar fasciitis at night?
If you are taping your foot during the day, physical therapists will often discourage you from also taping at night, as your skin will need time to breathe.
Instead, they might recommend a night splint to help with plantar fasciitis pain. Typically, when people sleep, the foot is in a downward position, causing the plantar fascia ligament to shorten.
Night splints work to stabilize the foot at a 90º angle, which keeps the plantar fascia stretched in the extended position overnight. 
What are the benefits of taping for plantar fasciitis?
While there are many non-surgical treatment options that may help alleviate Plantar Fasciitis pain, foot taping has consistently demonstrated significant short-term benefits.
Among the different techniques utilized in clinical practice, current research reveals that calcaneal taping, also called Low Dye taping, is one of the most effective techniques. 
Calcaneal taping stabilizes and supports your plantar fascia by limiting excessive foot pronation and stretching. This will alleviate stress on your ligament, allowing for accelerated healing and the prevention of further injury. 
- Miclau, Elizabeth. “Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis): Causes, Treatments, and Prevention.” Injury Health Blog, 7 Apr. 2021, injuryhealthblog.com/heel-pain-plantar-fasciitis/.
- Podolsky, Roman, and Leonid Kalichman. “Taping for Plantar Fasciitis.” Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 26 Jan. 2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24867905/.
- “Plantar Fasciitis Taping.” NHS Choices, NHS Foundation Trust, Sept. 2014, www.rdash.nhs.uk/publications/plantar-fascitis-taping-information-for-service-users-and-carers/.
- Roland, James. “Plantar Fasciitis Taping: Benefits, Materials, How To, and …” Edited by William Morrison, Healthline, 24 Jan. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/plantar-fasciitis-taping.
- C., Matt. “How to Wrap Foot for Plantar Fasciitis with Ace Bandage: DIY Instructions.” Empower Your Run, 19 Aug. 2020, empoweryourrun.com/how-to-wrap-foot-for-plantar-fasciitis-with-ace-bandage/.
- Wheeler, Tyler. “Plantar Fasciitis Home Remedies & Prevention: 15 Tips for Relief.” WebMD, 13 Sept. 2019, www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/what-can-i-do-plantar-fasciitis#2.
Elizabeth Miclau is an undergraduate at Harvard College, planning to pursue a concentration in life sciences or sociology. As a member of both Puerto Rico’s National Diving Team and Harvard’s Women’s Varsity Swimming and Diving Team, she has a strong background in elite athletics. In the past year, she has contributed to several journal publications and peer-review-funded research projects.