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This is no ordinary product review.
Why, you ask? (you ask, right?) Because the vast majority of the products that I review are brand new to me. I’m trying them out for the first time and then sharing my experience with you.
But this time around, I was asked to review a product that I already use, LOVE, and recommend to everyone I know. So in the interest of full disclosure, this is probably less product review, more love fest.
What Is KT Tape?
KT Tape is one of those things like GU or Nuun – something you’ve probably never heard of unless you’re an athlete who hangs out with other athletes. You know, the kind of athlete who loves her sport so much that she even writes a blog about it.
If you don’t fall into that category and/or have never heard of it, KT Tape (or Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape) is an elastic sports and fitness tape designed for muscle, ligament, and tendon pain relief and support. It can be used for hundreds of common injuries (not just sports-related injuries), including lower back pain, knee pain, shin splints, carpel tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow. You can think of KT Tape as a flexible version of a brace or traditional athletic tape. It is lightweight, comfortable, and supports sore muscles and joints without limiting the body’s natural movement. You can read more about the science behind kinesiology tape HERE.
If you know me in real life, you’ve probably already heard all about how I was introduced to KT Tape. And if you haven’t…well, here’s the story of how KT Tape saved my marathon.
KT Tape: A Love Story
In January 2013, I was heading into the final weeks of training for my first marathon. My final long run was a full 26 miler, and around mile 24 I began experiencing sharp pains just above my right knee. I was barely able to run those last 2 miles, and by the time I crossed the finish line (my Galloway group celebrates the 26 mile training run with an actual finish line, medals, and festivities) I was in tears – partly from the emotion of completing my first almost-marathon, and partly from the severe pain.
I was in acute pain for about 2 days after the run. After that, even though I was no longer in constant pain, the sharp pang above my knee returned every time I ran for more than a mile or two. My marathon was 3 weeks away, and needless to say, I was freaking out.
I ended up in urgent care, and from there I was referred to an orthopedist. I had x-rays and an MRI, and I waited and waited…and eventually I was diagnosed with IT Band Syndrome (ITBS). I didn’t know it at the time, but this is a very common issue for runners.
It took a lot of rest, icing, anti-inflammatories, stretching, and foam rolling, but I got the all-clear from my orthopedist and was able to run my first marathon in February 2013. Unfortunately, my IT Band issues returned with a vengeance around mile 18, and I finished the marathon in terrible pain. I crossed the finish line, grabbed my medal and water bottle, and made a beeline to the first aid tent.
Fast forward 5 months to the start of marathon training season #2. During that break, I kind of let things go. I didn’t race at all. I don’t think I ran further than 4 miles in all those months. I didn’t keep up with my foam rolling or IT Band exercises, and I ignored my dad’s advice to forgo marathon training until the following year.
Still, my training started off really well…until my 18 mile training run. Oh, man. It’s been almost a year since that day, and I still cringe at the memory. Right around mile 8, I started to feel that familiar twinge…only this time it was in both knees. By mile 16, even walking was seriously painful.
I thought that I was done for. I’d have to admit defeat and, worse, that my dad had been right.
A few days later, I went to one of the local running stores for suggestions, and everyone there recommended frequent and consistent foam rolling. Great advice – but would it be enough to get me through my upcoming 20 miler?
I foam rolled like it was my job. Mornings. Evenings. Before a run, and then again after it. And it did seem to be helping. But the night before my 20 mile run, I panicked. The memory of the pain from my previous long run was still very fresh in my mind, and I knew I couldn’t withstand another run like that.
So that evening, I made a last minute trip to a different running store. I remembered seeing some sort of IT Band knee brace in there, and I was willing to buy whatever kind of contraption they wanted to sell me, as long as it would get me through those 20 miles the next morning.
And then something strange happened.
The guy working that night told me not to buy the IT Band brace. In fact, he told me not to buy anything in the store. Instead, he sent me to CVS to buy KT Tape.
Love at First Sight
I had no other options at that point, so I did as he suggested – then I went home and watched several instructional videos from KTTape.com in order to select the right one for me. I decided to use the Outer Knee application. I watched the video several times, and then I prepared everything for the next morning. It was KT Tape or bust.
Now – I know you’re probably not going to believe this. At the very least, you’ll think I’m exaggerating. But I swear on the life of my Garmin that I experienced ZERO pain in either knee that day. And even more improbably – I haven’t experienced any IT Band since (knock on wood). I started taping both knees every single time I ran more than 4 miles. I used KT Tape during the 26.2 with Donna in February 2014 and the Tour de Pain 13.1 in March 2014. And still – no pain.
After my March half marathon, I returned to shorter distances and stopped taping my knees. And even now that marathon training season #3 is underway, I haven’t needed to start taping. We’re only up to 14 miles though, so that may change in another month or two. In the meantime, I have recommended KT Tape to pretty much anyone who complains about muscle, tendon, or ligament pain. This includes my dad, my mom, my sister, my entire Galloway pace group, my real life and online running friends, Facebook runners, random runners, and anyone who asks about the tape on my legs. And now you. Welcome to the club.
Beyond the Love Fest
Even thought KT Tape is not available at my local running store, it IS available at lots of major sporting good stores and drug stores all over the US and Canada. You can choose between KT Tape Original ($12.99) and KT Tape Pro ($19.99) – both come with 20 pre-cut strips and in a variety of colors. One roll can go a long way – for instance, the application that I use only requires 2 pre-cut strips per knee. KTTape.com offers easy-to-follow instructional videos for 40+ applications/injuries.
And now…do you know what I love even more than product reviews? It’s giveaways! And the awesome folks at KT Tape are giving one lucky reader 3 rolls of KT Tape Pro – total retail value of about $60! Everything you need to enter is on the Rafflecopter below.
Stuff you should know before you enter the giveaway —> * This giveaway is open to US residents only. You must be 18+ to enter. Winners will be notified via email and given 48 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner may be selected. Mommy Runs It is not responsible for prize fulfillment. Giveaway ends 9/29/14 at 11:59 p.m. EST.*
Good luck and thanks for entering! Now keep scrolling to check out some more awesome fitness blog giveaways!