The battle of the K tape

In addition to battling cancer and a nosocomial infection, I’ve also been busy battling plantar fasciitis.

The PF preceded the BC, and while not as nasty–and certainly not life-threatening in any way–it’s a major drag. My feet hurt all the time. All. The. Time.  Maintaining my busy-body active lifestyle is pretty tricky with feet that hurt All. The. Time. It also severely limits my footwear. Cute shoes are pretty much out, as is going barefoot. I haven’t resorted to orthopedic shoes, but I’m not out of the woods yet, either. I have custom orthotics that go in my tennis shoes (don’t be jealous), and if I’m not wearing my tennies, I’m in my very dear Cole Haan flip flops or my not-s0-cute but cushy crocs flip flops. Thank goodness I don’t work in an office that requires closed-toe, pinchy shoes. I’d have to quit or get fired. Probably option #2.

I’ve seen a foot doctor, I’ve tried herbal remedies, I’ve taken copious amounts of RX anti-inflammatories, I’ve iced and elevated and slept in a splint. I had high hopes that while recovering from The Big Dig and taking several months off from tennis and most of my daily activities beyond laying in bed bemoaning my pitiful state would provide some respite from the foot problems that plague me. Alas, it did not. In fact, having foot pain while lying in bed doing none of the active things I want to do gave me more about which to bemoan. 

My tennis buddy and dog-spoiler extraordinaire Christy had the answer to my problems. Dr Scott Kelly of the Airrosti Clinic. I need another doctor in my life about as much as Lindsey Lohan needs another bad-influence friend. The thought of adding yet another doctor my circle of docs did not appeal to me one little bit, but desperate times….

The Airrosti Clinic uses an intense treatment model that involves some serious hands-on time with the doc. And when I say hands-on, I mean he’s gonna put his hands on your tenderest injured spot and mangle the hell out of it. For real.

See, fascia is connective tissue that covers most of our body. It covers the different muscles, blood vessels and nerves “much like plastic wrap holds the contents of a sandwich together,” as it was explained to me. Problem with fascia is it’s everywhere, so your chance of injuring it is great, and it has little or no blood supply, so your chance of healing said injury is not great.

That’s where the laying of hands comes in. Dr Kelly gets his long, strong, mean hands into the damaged fascia and starts kneading it like bread. Then stretching it like taffy. Then punching it like a speed bag. All the while laughing maniacally at the moans, cries, screams and curse words coming from the patient. (Ok, he doesn’t really laugh maniacally but he does seem to enjoy his work very much, and when I showed him the line of bruises on my calf after his first hands-on treatment he smiled with obvious pride and said that’s his signature, and if he could sign his name in bruises, he would. That’s one autograph I don’t really need but apparently am gonna get. Repeatedly.)

When I met him last week, he grabbed ahold of my foot and said he could diagnose me in 30 seconds. I said I didn’t realize this was like speed-dating. He rolled his eyes, then told me that he could cure my PF in 3 treatments. I asked if he could also name that tune in one note. Why oh why don’t any of these doctors get my humor??

As skeptical as I was, I have to say that after the mangling, kneading, stretching, punching, and cussing, I could tell a difference. It took a while for the shock and trauma to subside, but once it did, I could tell that we were getting somewhere. The day after my first treatment, I got out of bed and walked barefoot on the tile without pain — something I hadn’t done in at least a year.

There’s homework, of course, that involves standing on a golf ball and rolling the ball all over the bottom of my feet, paying special attention to and lingering on the really tender spots. There are also a couple of exercises involving a 36-inch by 6-inch foam roller.

And then there’s the K tape

Kinesio tape. In every color of the rainbow, according to the image on The website is pretty glowing about this product:

“It’s designed for Professional athletes, Olympians, and active people world-wide who take health & fitness seriously and who refuse to stop training, playing, or living life active and free. The design is minimalist, the results are magic.”

That’s me: I refuse to stop training playing, or living life active and free. Bring on the magic!

I’d had K tape before, when I was treating my PF myself, and again when I started seeing my lovely lymphedema specialist, Tammy. She’s a certified K tape master. She’s been using K tape on my post-mastectomy chest and now on my post-reconstruction belly. I’m a believer in the magic of K tape. As part of the scar-tissue-management on my 17-inch-long incision on my belly, Tammy puts a couple of strips of K tape and we wait for the magic happen.

So when Dr Kelly wanted to tape my feet after my first treatment and asked if I’d ever heard of it, I said as a matter of fact, I have some on my belly right now. We hadn’t been through the whole song & dance about the BC business; I was hoping to keep the BC beast out of the sports medicine arena. Well, the elephant was certainly in the room when I mentioned I had K tape on my belly. In for a penny, in for a pound, and I had to explain. 

Yes, those are bruises just above the shorter piece of tape. If you’re fluent in the language of torture, you can probably tell that that’s how Dr K signs his name.

Dr Kelly seems to be a bit competitive, and wanted to tape me up real nice so that Tammy, the other K tape master, would approve. She did. And then she took it a step further. I guess she’s a bit competitive, too.

Instead of just using a couple of strips on the scar tissue on my belly, Tammy used a new technique she’d just learned at a K tape workshop. Could this be Turf Wars part deux? 

I can’t wait to show this to Dr Kelly. The battle of the K tape is on!

I hope neither he nor Tammy sees this K tape image and gets any big ideas:

I’m ok with the crazy blue racing stripes on my legs & feet, and with the Frankenstein pink on my belly and over my new belly button, but I’m drawing the line at a pink ribbon made from K tape. No thanks!

12 Comments on “The battle of the K tape”

  1. Jan Hasak says:

    You are too funny in your description of this not-so-funny diagnosis. When our feet hurt, we really sit up and notice if we are active people. I have Reynaud’s syndrome, which causes my feet and hands to get very cold and makes my left toes red and uncomfortable at times. It’s one of those “new normals” for me. I’m having more new normals every week, it seems. As you say, they are not life-threatening like cancer, but they are still annoying, especially for people on the go.

    The first time I heard of K tape was at a lymphedema seminar last September. The therapists use it to wrap up limbs to prevent swelling. So it is interesting that you mention it. I agree that you should draw the line at the pink ribbon tape. That’s way over the top.

    I hope the tape works really well for you and you can get back to more than a semblance of your former self.
    Jan XO

    • Hi Jan! My lymphedema specialist used tons of K tape on her patients, and it really helped me this summer when I was puffy & fluid-filled from multiple surgeries. Glad I could make you laugh.

  2. Ed says:

    It’s the latest fashion trend. You’ll know it has peaked when Lady Gaga makes a dress out of it. Love Tammy’s work. Does this make a star-belly sneetch? Or just something that rhymes with that??

  3. Chez Radford says:

    Must admit you did have me smiling at this very serious situation.
    Having had the problem myself, I do understand the pain. We did not have the brightly coloured tapein those days though. I still have the ball and the foot roller. Maybe Arnica applied after the good doc works his magic might prevent the bruising. Worth a try!
    A good read! My thanks.

  4. Michelle says:

    So now you are grouped in the same grouping as olympians and hard core athletes, just by using K tape. I think that in itself makes me want to get some and tape something on me.

    But I don’t understand what healing qualities it has? what’s the ‘magic’ – you mentioned it on your belly, does it heal scars faster? Share with me sister… I have my yucky red mastectomy scars that haven’t really wanted to lighten up that much and if this miracle cure is the answer, I will get some pronto!! 🙂

    I’m so glad the first treatment worked. I’d have been extra impressed if he’d named that tune.

    PS – I don’t know why the dr’s don’t have a sense of humor. I wore my ‘my oncologist can beat up your oncologist’ hoodie at my first meeting with my oncologist and he just stared at me. I wanted to go home and write on my hoodie with a sharpie “my oncologist is a wuss’ – but I refrained.

    • Michelle, the K tape has wavy ridges on the sticky side, so it’s supposed to help promote blood flow to the taped area, which promotes healing. I don’t know how much evidence there is to show K tape reducing scarring, but I do know that it feels better while taped, and that’s progress in my mind. I’ve also been using ScarGuard on my mastectomy/reconstruction scars. It’s a clear silicone liquid that you brush on like nail polish. I’ve only been using it a few weeks so can’t speak to the results yet. It’s $28 at Target; probably available at drugstores too. Do you have Walgreens & CVS in Canada?

  5. Sayre says:

    I’m glad you found a way to ease the PF pain! I had it for five years following a car accident (it may have been coincidental, but it showed up right after the accident). I felt like a little old lady. I didn’t know what it was… the pain was most intense first thing in the morning and after the initial flare of pain, I pretty much ignored it as best I could. It did keep me from being terribly active though, which is part of the reason I’m still working on my “baby fat” 12 years after having the baby (the accident was 9 months after giving birth). I’ll have to remember this K Tape!!!

  6. nancyspoint says:

    I’m sorry you are dealing with this painful and annoying medical condition too. Ugh. When your feet hurt, life can be pretty miserable. You sure tell a good story though! I’m glad you already feel improvement, that’s great! And I didn’t know there was so much “diversity” in tape!

  7. Barb Fernald says:

    I’ve been away from the blogging for a little bit. Reading and writing. And now you have started summer and what do I see? Plantar fasciitis! I sure know what that feels like and have not gone barefoot for years. However, I keep it pretty much under control by wearing Birkenstock insoles (the blue 3/4 length ones) in all my shoes. The Birkenstocks are great for P.F. and even better are the Chaco sandals. They have the most comfortable foot bed for my Plantar fasciitis, and they make a flip flop that I keep next to my bed. It sure is a drag to have sore feet if you are an active person.
    But what is this K tape? It sounds like a miracle for healing stuff. Is it? If I have to stand for long hours, should I wear it around my ankles? When my knees feel like they need to be replaced, is there a way to wear K tape to help them? Does Lady Gaga’s body hurt all over or was her K tape outfit a fashion statement? I’m headed to Google right now to find out. Thanks!

  8. Julie says:

    Love all the full disclosure–you are fearless and that’s my kinda girl! However you forgot to mention that we are glad Dr. S doesn’t know about K tape and especially that it isn’t applicable for the mouth area! Whew- big sigh of relief from this big-mouth girl! Oh, Remind me to tell you the big mouth frog joke… after a margarita!

  9. […] cowboy boots, and how much I’d love to wear my boots every single day if not for my blasted plantar fasciitis and my aching feet. […]

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