The following calf taping techniques are designed to support and reduce stress on the calf muscle during activity. They can be used for both the treatment and prevention of calf injuries. These taping techniques may be used in isolation or in combination with other strategies to reduce stress on the calf such as: Achilles tendon taping techniques, the use of heel wedges or the use of crutches.
You should discuss the suitability of these calf taping techniques with your physiotherapist prior to using them. Generally, they should only be applied provided they are comfortable and do not cause an increase in pain, discolouration, pins and needles, numbness or excessive redness of the lower leg, foot or ankle.
What sort of tape should be used to tape my calf?
There are many different tapes and bandages available for use by physiotherapists and patients. However, when the purpose is to restrict undesired motion, only adhesive, non-stretch (rigid) sports tape is appropriate. (For calf taping 38mm is usually the most appropriate size). This should always be used in combination with hypoallergenic tape as an underlay, such as Fixomull.
Benefits of calf taping
When used correctly, calf taping techniques can be used to:
- Aid healing of certain injuries (such as a Calf Strain (Soleus), Calf Strain (Gastrocnemius) or Calf Contusion)
- Allow an earlier return to sport or activity following injury
- Reduce the likelihood of injury aggravation
- Minimise the likelihood of calf injuries during high risk sports (such as netball, basketball, football, soccer, squash, tennis, running or sprinting etc.).
Indications for Calf Taping
It is generally beneficial to tape the calf in the following instances:
- Following certain injuries – Calf taping may be beneficial following injuries to the calf (such as a Calf Strain (Soleus), Calf Strain (Gastrocnemius) or Calf Contusion). These taping techniques are particularly useful during activities that aggravate or are likely to aggravate the existing condition and are often used in combination with other strategies to reduce stress on the calf such as: Achilles tendon taping techniques, the use of heel wedges or the use of crutches (this should be discussed with the treating physiotherapist as certain injuries should not be taped).
- To prevent injury – Calf taping may be beneficial during sports or activities that place the calf at risk of injury (such as netball, basketball, football, soccer, squash, tennis, running or sprinting etc.).
When should I avoid Calf Taping?
Calf taping should be avoided in the following instances:
- If you have certain injuries such as some fractures (this should be discussed with the treating physiotherapist).
- If you have a skin allergy to sports tape.
- If the taping technique results in an increase in symptoms such as pain, ache, discolouration, pins and needles, numbness or excessive redness of the foot or ankle.
- If you have circulatory problems.
Weaning off calf tape in general activity is usually recommended as strength, range of movement, function and balance improves and symptoms reduce. In some instances though, taping during high-risk activity (such as some sports) may still be recommended.
Calf Taping Techniques
The following calf taping techniques may be used to provide support for the calf and are particularly beneficial for patients suffering from injuries such as: Calf Strain (Soleus), Calf Strain (Gastrocnemius) or Calf Contusion.
Generally, it is recommended that the lower leg is shaved 12 hours prior to taping (to prevent painful removal of hairs and skin irritation). The skin should be cleaned removing any grease or sweat. Low irritant Fixomull tape should be applied as an underlay to reduce the likelihood of skin irritation with rigid sports tape over the top of this.
Some or all of the following taping techniques may be applied to tape the calf and provide the support required for the individual.
Keeping the foot and ankle in a neutral position (i.e. the foot and toes should be approximately perpendicular to the lower leg), start the tape at the lower third of the calf. Begin this taping technique by following the black arrow (figure 1) and conclude this taping technique at the top of the calf, just below the knee joint by firmly following the white arrow (figure 1). Do 2 to 5 straight lines adjacent to each other depending on the size of the calf and the amount of support required (each layer may overlap adjacent layers for increased support).
Figure 1 – Straight Lines
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Complete Calf Taping
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Removing the tape
Care should be taken when removing the tape to avoid injury aggravation or skin damage. Blunt nosed tape scissors should be used. The tape should be removed slowly, pulling the tape back on itself with pressure placed on the skin as close as possible to the line of attachment of the tape.
Generally tape should be removed within 48 hours of tape application, or sooner, if there is any increase in pain or symptoms (including skin irritation or itchiness).
Physiotherapy products for calf taping
- Fixomull (Low Irritant Tape)
- Rigid Sports Tape (38mm)
- Blunt Nosed Tape Scissors
- Kinesio Tape
- Elastic Adhesive Bandage (EAB)
- Res-Off Tape Remover
- Calf Stretches
- Calf Strengthening Exercises
- Ankle Flexibility Exercises
- Ankle Strengthening Exercises
- Balance Exercises
Find a physiotherapist in your local area who can help with calf taping.
- Calf Strain (Soleus)
- Calf Strain (Gastrocnemius)
- Calf Contusion
- R.I.C.E Regime
- Ice or Heat?
- How to Use Crutches
- Warming Up and Cooling Down
- Injury Prevention
- Return to Running
- Return to Sport
- Choosing a Shoe
- Do I Need Orthotics?
- Lower Leg Diagnosis Guide
Other Taping Techniques
- Achilles Tendon
- Patella Tendon
- Tennis Elbow
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Calf taping techniques are designed to support and reduce stress on the calf during activity. They can be used for both the treatment and prevention of calf strains and calf contusions and are often used in combination with other techniques to reduce stress on the calf such as: the use of heel wedges, Achilles tendon taping or the use of crutches to ensure pain free activity.
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