Taping is a great way of relieving symptoms of patellofemoral pain by helping to control the position of the patella (kneecap).
Below we demonstrate two patella taping techniques. The first is specifically for controlling the patella. The second is a general anterior knee pain taping technique which helps patella tracking by supporting and encouraging muscles to work in a particular way.
Patellofemoral pain taping
Taping for patellofemoral pain (play video).
We recommend seeking professional advice before attempting any self treatment. For this taping to be affective it is important to understand how the patella needs to be adjusted. It can be tilted, rotated and glided sideways and sometimes trail and error is necessary.
Taping can be used If the athlete has pain on daily activities. Taping can be used all day but should be gradually reduced as the knee improves. If pain is not constant and only on certain activies then the taping should only be applied for those activities or rehabilitation exercises.
Before taping the patella
It is important to first find the sore spot where the underside of the knee cap rubs on the tibia bone. It may be trial and error to start with. The knee cap usually needs to be glided sideways away from the sore spot.
The knee cap may also need to be tilted or rotated in addition to sliding it medially. The therapist needs to look and assess the patella. If the first attempt is not successful then try a tilt or rotation.
The effectiveness of taping should be assessed by performing an activity which usually causes pain (e.g. a squat) before applying the tape, which is then repeated after the tape is applied. If the taping has been effective then the activity should be virtually pain free.
What is required?
- Fixomul / Hypafix type tape.
- 2.5cm (1 inch) non stretch white zinc oxide tape.
- It is often possible to buy a specific patella taping kit.
- The knee cap should be assessed to work out which way the tape should be applied.
- By moving and applying pressure to the knee cap it may be possible to determine where the sore spot is and in which direction the patella should be glided.
- This is usually towards the middle of the knee (medially).
- Firstly, apply strips of the Fixomul / Hypafix tape over the patella (kneecap) area.
- Don' t apply any tension to these strips.
Step 3 - If the patella needs gliding inwards (medially)
- Apply a strip of 2.5cm non-stretch zinc oxide tape from the outer knee to the inner, applying tension before fixing the tape.
Step 4 - If the patella needs tilting
- Apply a strip of 2.5cm non-stretch tape (zinc oxide usually) from the centre of the knee cap towards the inner knee.
- Gently pull on the tape before fixing to assist in gliding the patella towards the inside of the knee.
- This can be increased further by pushing the skin on the inside of knee towards the kneecap before fixing the tape
Step 5 - If the patella needs rotating
- Apply a strip of 2.5cm non-stretch zinc oxide tape from the bottom of the kneecap inwards and upwards diagonally to rotate the patella anti-clockwise.
- To rotate it clockwise, apply tape from the top and pull down and inwards.
- Assess the position of the patella. Additional strips can be applied to increase the strength of the taping.
- Finally the athlete performs a previously painful activity. If successful there should be at least a 50% reduction in pain if not a complete reduction of pain.
General anterior knee pain taping
A simple taping technique (play video) which can be done for any anterior knee pain. Its purpose is to encourage the muscles of the thigh to pull in a way that helps patella tracking.This taping works by encouraging the muscles of the leg to keep the knee facing forwards and so encourages correct patella tracking. It is ideal for running and other sporting actives where a full patella taping may be restrictive.