Lateral patellar tracking

As you may recall from our intro post on kinesiology taping, we’re going to focus on each muscle group/joint and show you how to use kinesiology tape in three distinct ways:

  1. Immediately after injury  (for swelling and pain)
  2. During the healing process (correction techniques to restore normal position and allow for healing)
  3. Techniques to help improve strength + function

In this post we’re going to be using the tape to help restore normal position to the patellofemoral joint (aka where the knee cap meets the thigh and lower leg bones underneath). This is a common area of injury in athletes and can include multiple diagnoses such as patella tracking abnormalities, patellar tendinitis, and chondromalacia. The goal of these taping applications is to restore normal alignment to the joint and to decrease pain and inflammation while doing so.

Anatomy

When looking at the knee and patella (knee cap in particular) it is important to remember that the tendon starts above the knee where the individual quad muscles end (there are four quad muscles). This tendon then travels from the end of the femur, over the joint line and inserts onto the tibial tubercle. The knee cap itself sits in the tendon with no direct attachment to those bones. All three bones are lined with cartilage to prevent breakdown and damage to the knee cap. On either side of the knee cap, the tendon is attached to fibrous bands called the retinaculum. These help keep the knee cap from moving too far from side to side. Together, these attachments all help the patella stay in it’s groove as the knee bends and straightens. It is also why this are is such a common spot for injury. In the presence of muscle imbalances or soft tissue restrictions, the knee cap can be pulled out of alignment and inflammation/injury can occur. In the case of a knee cap that is tracking (or being pulled to) the outside, it can cause pain along the inside of the patella or on the outside just above the knee cap.

What you will need:

1) Roll of kinesiology tape

2) Sharpest scissors in the house.

Prep work:

1) Clean skin. This means no oils or lotions of any kind. You want your skin to be clean and more importantly dry. Moisture of any kind = tape will fall off or fail to stick altogether.

2) Hair care. Ideally, the less hair the better. Guys, this means that for best results you will need to trim any long leg hair or shave the calf area.

3) If clean, dry, and hairless skin still = no sticking of tape. Time to get some adhesive spray like Tuf Skin.

4) The tape should last 3-5 days. You can get it wet and shower with it on. Just towel dry it after. No hair dryer! The tape is heat activated. ;)

Taping Techniques

1) Lateral tracking correction strip

Key Points:

  • Prep the skin first and then locate the knee cap. For this application you will want to focus on the outer edge of the knee cap. The tape will be applied to this edge first with the knee straight and moderate tension. From here, the knee will be bent and the remainder of the tape laid down without tension.
  • When you straighten your knee out, the tape should look bunched up and crinkled. You want this! That means the tape was applied with the correct amount of tension/stretch.
  • See the video above for full details.
  • For further instructions on how to incorporate kinesiology taping into your self treatment regimen click here.

References

1) Capobianco, Dr. Steven and van den Dries, Greg. (2009). Power Taping, 2nd Edition, Rock Tape Inc, Los Gatos, CA.

2) Hammer, Warren. (2007). Functional Soft-Tissue Examination and Treatment by Manual Methods, 3rd edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc, Sudbury, MA.

3) Kase, Kenzo, Wallis, Jim, and Kase, Tsuyoshi. (2003). Clinical Therapeutic Applications of the Kinesio Taping Method.

4) Muscolino, Joseph. (2009). The Muscle and Bone Palpation Manual. Mosby, Inc, St. Louis, MO.