PT Tip of the Month Archive

Low-dye Taping

Developed by Dr. Ralph Dye, a podiatrist, low-dye taping is also known as calcaneal taping. This intervention is used predominantly for injuries or pain attributed to excess pronation during gait. Although pronation is a normal component of gait, excessive pronation (where the rear foot remains pronated beyond the midstance phase of the gait cycle), may place additional stress on the surrounding soft tissue and fascia. Low-dye taping is commonly used by physical therapists in the treatment of lower leg symptoms related to excessive pronation. Low-dye taping has been used to provide short-term (7-10 days) of pain relief by supporting the medial longitudinal arch of the foot, thus controlling the amount of rear foot pronation. It also helps to reduce the pressure in the medial midfoot. It is thought that by reducing this pressure and decreasing the amount of pronation via an external support such as low-dye taping, the plantar fascia (see below for plantar fasciitis) won't be subject to the repetitive stretching and cycle of inflammation seen in plantar fasciitis.

Some two-dimensional video analysis has found that using low-dye taping causes an increase in arch height ratio, which indicates reduced pronation. There is also some evidence to support that low-dye taping shifts the pressure medial to lateral. Redistribution of plantar pressure may reflect a shift in rear foot positioning.

Low-dye taping involves proper positioning by a trained health care provider and taping along the bottom and sides of the foot. A study by Radford et al. compared the results of 92 patients with plantar fasciitis. Half of the group received low-dye taping with sham ultrasound, and the other half received sham ultrasound only. Participants in the taping group had their foot taped for a median of 7 days. Compared to the sham ultrasound group, the taping group reported a small but significant difference in first-step pain. Thus, there is some evidence to support that that taping results in functional improvements.

Plantar Fasciitis Overview:

Plantar fasciitis is a condition in which the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot becomes inflamed from repetitive stretching. Common symptoms include pain in the center of the heel bone with activities such as walking, jogging, or stairs, as well as pain with the initial steps in the morning. This condition is commonly seen in individuals who increase their activity levels rapidly and in people whose occupations involve prolonged standing. People who are overweight or have very high arches or flat feet may also be predisposed to experience plantar fasciitis. See Plantar Fasciitis Archive for more on this condition.

Treatment

Because there are a variety of intervention options available for the treatment of plantar fasciitis, it is best to see a physical therapist to receive a thorough examination and determine which intervention will address your needs appropriately. Low-Dye taping is a form of treatment that may be most beneficial for this and other foot ailments. If you feel that you are experiencing signs or symptoms of plantar fasciitis, and would like to schedule an evaluation, call 617-232-PAIN for our Brookline office, or 617-325-PAIN for our West Roxbury office. Your physical therapist will be able to prescribe the correct stretching and strengthening exercises, perform joint or soft tissue mobilization, educate you on modifying activities that bring on your pain, recommend proper footwear, and administer any modalities over the affected region so you can resume pain-free activity.

Low-Dye Taping for Plantar Fasciitis Video

References

  1. McPoil TG, Martin RL, Cornwall MW, Wukich DK, Irrgang JL, Godges JL. Heel pain - plantar fasciitis: clinical practice guidelines linked to the international classification of functioning, disability, and health from the orthopedic section of the American physical therapy association. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2008;38:A1-A18.

  2. Osborne HR and Allison GT. Treatment of plantar fasciitis by LowDye taping and iontophoresis: short term results of a double blinded, randomized, placebo controlled clinical trial of dexamethasone and acetic acid. Br J Sports Med. 2006;40:545-549.

  3. Radford JA, Landorf KB, Buchbinder R, Cook C. Effectiveness of low-Dye taping for the short-term treatment of plantar heel pain: a randomized trial. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2006;7:64-70.

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