How Does Taping Help Runner’s Knee?

Written By: Jeremy N

If you have been running long enough, then you may have come across the unfortunate injury that we know “affectionately” as runner’s knee, which is a term used to describe an array of injuries to the knee as a result of running, but most commonly patella tendonitis.

If you have clicked on this article, then I am sure you are suffering from this problem in some way, so you want to know if taping your knee up will help with the healing process, or at least aid in the symptoms.

It turns out that the answer might not be as simple as yes or no, so this will take a little bit of explaining.

I am here to tell you everything you need to know about runner’s knee, the best way to tape your knee, and then share some other recovery methods that might help you get better. Let’s begin.

Does Taping Help Runner’s Knee?

How Does Taping Help Runner’s Knee?

Support for Runner’s Knee?

John Hopkins Medicine explains that “Runner's knee means that you have dull pain around the front of the knee (patella). This is where the knee connects with the lower end of the thigh bone (femur)”

As you can see, tape can help but it is a more general label of what could be a couple of different injuries, but the most important fact for our purposes is that it usually has to do with some damage to the patella tendon, which is located in the front area of the knee.

Common structural reasons for runner’s knee occurring are:

  • A kneecap that is too high in the knee joint
  • Weak thigh muscles
  • Tight hamstrings
  • Tight Achilles tendons

Furthermore, other contributing factors include:

  • Walking or running with the feet rolling in while the thigh muscles pull the kneecap outward
  • Excessive training or overuse

These factors are important as understanding a holistic treatment plan, if you do not understand the root cause of your runner’s knee, then no amount of taping or compression equipment is going to help you get better again.

Does Taping Actually Help Runner’s Knee?

Before we start this conversation, make sure to talk with your doctor to see if taping your knee is actually relevant to your injury and get the “go-ahead” from them first.

To answer the question simply, it depends. Every case of runner’s knee is a little different and that will affect the outcome of taping.

In many cases, however, knee tape can definitely help runner’s knee.

It does it by guiding and supporting the muscles and joints that it wraps over and around. This guides the muscles into a correct motion rather than the faulty direction they move due to muscle weaknesses or imbalances.

Some even claim that taping does assist in increasing blood circulation to the areas it is applied, but the jury is still out on that one as well as provide additional support. 

That being said, while taping can help relieve some symptoms of runner’s knee, it won't always actually fix the root cause of the pain you are experiencing.

Make sure you are treating, stretching, and strengthening the root of the problem so you can get back to normal training without relying on a tape job.

How to Tape Runner’s Knee (2 Ways)

There is no one best way to tape your knee in general, but for some instances there are better taping methods for certain types of knee pain. We will go over three in the article.

Anterior Knee Pain

Anterior knee pain occurs in the front or side of your knee. This is the closest case to runner’s knee, and can be referred to as patellofemoral pain syndrome or knee arthritis.

To do this tape job you will need two Y strips of tape (one long and one short).

To apply:

  1. Cut the longer Y strip to about 1 to 2 feet (whatever length suits your needs). Sit down and bend your knee.
  2. To start, peel the first inch of tape. Secure  it in the middle of your thigh. Split the Y and remove the backing.
  3. Stretch the tails to 25 to 50 percent of tension and apply over each side of your kneecap. Rub the tape to activate the adhesive.
  4. Peel the first inch of the smaller Y strip. Secure it on the outer side of the kneecap, split the Y, and remove the backing.
  5. Stretch the tails to 50 percent tension, and apply the tails above and below the kneecap.

Medial Knee Pain

Medial knee pain is located in the inner side of the knee and could be a result of patellar tendonitis, meniscus tear or sprain and an MCL injury. THis taping method can help these problems.

To do this you will need 1) kinesiology tape and 2) scissors.

Here are the step by step instructions.

  1. Cut a 10-inch strip of tape.
  2. Sit down, bend knee to 90 degrees.
  3. Peel the first inch of tape and secure it below your inner knee, on the upper calf muscle.
  4. Stretch the tape to 10 percent and wrap along the inner knee. Activate the adhesive tape by rubbing it.
  5. Cut two 5-inch strips of tape. Peel one strip from the center, stretch to about 80% tension, and apply diagonally over the site of your pain.
  6. Create an “X” with the tape by repeating with the second strip of tape.

These methods are going to cover many of the ailments that your runner’s knee is causing you. So give these a try and see how it works. It may take you a couple of tries to dial in your technique, so here is a video to try for yourself.

Here is a list of the best tape on the market:

I detail the differences between Rock Tape & KT Tape here

Other Runner’s Knee Recovery Methods for Running

So although taping is a helpful treatment for runner’s knee, there are other recovery modalities to implement alongside your taping job that can help speed up your recovery process.

  • Cold Packs (Icing)
    • With a cloth separating the pack from your skin, place directly onto an area with pain to promote better circulation to that area.
    • Aim to apply for 10-15 minutes, twice a day.
  • Elevating the Leg
    • Sit up next to a wall and place your legs upon the wall, keep them straight, but with a slight bend in the knees.
    • Lay like this for 15-30 minutes a day.
  • Compression Knee Wrap
    • Using a compression sleeve, apply over the area with pain to promote better circulation. Try to have compression on the muscles above and below the afflicted area as well.
  • Stretching exercises
    • Aim to stretch your quad, hamstrings, calves and hips.
    • Make sure you are warmed up, and hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds.
  • Strengthening exercises
    • This will depend on your exact problem, so speak with a doctor or physical therapist to ensure you get the correct exercises.
    • Knee problems often stem from hip or ankle weaknesses.
    • Knee problems also occur from quad, hamstring, and calf tightness.
  • Arch support in shoes
    • Over pronation can be the cause of knee pain.
    • Having Arch supports or properly fitting shoes will help treat some of the causes as well.

Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journeyAbout Me.

Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journeyAbout Jeremy. 

I have run over 250 races including the California International Marathon, Clarksburg Country Run, and various other 5K & 10K races throughout the United States. I am a former Athletics department employee at University of the Pacific and Shoe Consultant with Dicks Sporting Goods

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