Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I'm Giving KT Tape a Mixed Review

I’ve been running with KT tape for four weeks now, and I’m starting to draw some conclusions.  First, let me review what I was doing before.

Initially, I had a groin strain in my right leg.  At the time, I had a few short breaks in my schedule, but I also had a few races I wasn’t willing to skip.  More than once, I felt like I was almost recovered, but then I aggravated the injury by doing a race.

When I wasn’t fully healed by July, I was faced with six races in four weeks.  To get through that, I started wrapping my leg with an elastic bandage.  Running with the bandage was tiring and uncomfortable, but it did the job.  My right leg wasn’t getting any worse.

In late June, I injured my left leg.  Although both injuries were in the same muscles, there were differences.  The first injury was a traumatic injury.  I think I suffered a partial tear while moving some heavy boxes and furniture last May.  The second injury was brought on my overdoing my physical therapy.

My right leg seemed capable of doing most normal motions.  Running for more than a few miles made the injured area sore.  It wasn’t acute.  It was a vague soreness than gradually got more noticeable as I kept running.  My left leg had very little strength for certain types of lateral motions.  Turns were uncomfortable, but only momentarily.

As I kept running with my right leg wrapped, my left leg got worse.  The night after a race, getting in or out of bed became extremely difficult.  At first, I only noticed this for one night.  Eventually, I was noticing it to some degree all the time.

As my left leg got worse, I started to get more concerned about that injury than the original injury to my right leg.  That was still there, but it wasn’t getting worse.

When I switched to using KT tape, I wore it on both legs.  It feels a little bit binding on other muscles, but not nearly as much as the bandage.  It also allows me to run with a balanced stride, since both legs are taped the same way.  Since I started wearing it, my left leg has improved considerably.  I’m not only preventing further damage, I’m healing.  Each week it feels better than the week before.  Those muscles are still weak, but getting in and out of bed is no longer an ordeal.  I’m also no longer noticing discomfort when I make a sharp turn during a run.

I wish I could say the same about my right leg.  At first, I wasn’t noticing a difference.  Now I am.  I don’t feel my leg getting sore while running, but I notice soreness at other times.  It’s become particularly noticeable in the last week.  More often than not, if I move my right leg, I feel some soreness.  While my left leg was aggravated by specific movements, my right leg seems to be more sensitive to the repeated impact of running.

I’m pleased that my left leg is improving, but I’m concerned about my right leg.  I still have a lot of races before I can take an extended break.  I need to limit the damage.  It seemed like the elastic bandage was working better.

For my next race, I’m seriously considering a hybrid approach.  I may continue wearing KT tape on the left leg, but go back to wrapping the right leg.  I’m not sure how that will work.  The bandage forces me to run with an imbalanced stride.  I think that’s what was making my left leg worse in the first place.  I also don’t know if the bandage on my right leg will rub against the tape on my left leg and cause it to fray or come loose.

Ideally, I’d try this out in training runs before trying it in a race.  This week, I don’t have that luxury.  My right leg is sufficiently sore that I want to rest my legs until my next race.

I feel like my whole race schedule is one long stage race.  I try to get through each week, and I keep making adjustments.

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