The ACE bandage, like the Band-Aid, is a brand name that has become a generic trademark due to the popularity of its use. Some companies are proud to become a household name, some feel it makes them less distinctive. (Pro tip: The Xerox Corporation does not want their name used as a verb or adjective.)
Be that as it may, ACE has become synonymous with elastic cotton wrap bandages just as Band-Aid has become synonymous with adhesive strip bandages. Feel free to take a few minutes to get the jingle out of your head now. The brand name ACE has a double meaning. Not only does it denote being first-rate, but the letters stand for All Cotton Elastic.
It was invented in 1918 by Oscar O. R. Schwidetzky with the intention of reducing swelling and inflammation in patients who just had surgery while still being breathable. This product is designed for both support and comfort. As it is not made with latex or dyes the bandage itself should not cause any irritation to even sensitive skin.
It’s perfect for applying compression therapy to sprained limbs and immobilizing them to keep them from hurting more. Sore joints in need of compression therapy can benefit from ACE bandages. It can also be used to soothe plantar fasciitis, which is what we will discuss here.
Have Your RICE with MICE
Many people who treat or have had to be treated for sprains, strains, bruises, and other ailments are familiar with the acronym “RICE” That stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. With plantar fasciitis, you may want to alternate your RICE with MICE. The M here stands for Massage.
While rest is a good way to start on a speedy recovery, once it’s less tender to touch you may want to try massaging the ligament. A physical therapist can do it, but you can do it at home by simply sitting down and rolling your foot back and forth over a tennis ball.
You can combine this with cold therapy by freezing a plastic bottle of water and rolling it back and forth with your foot. Remember not to have your feet on ice for more than ten minutes at a time. You do not want frostbite on the top of your other problems.
What Wrapping Can and Cannot Do
Wrapping will not reverse the condition or treat the root cause. It is mainly for the purpose of reducing pain. It will work even better when combined with other pain-relieving methods. It may keep a bad condition from getting worse. Wrapping your foot will make walking easier, but you should still go easy on that foot.
Depending on how severe the injury of the plantar fasciitis, taping can be helpful. Keep in mind that there are occasions when it may not even help at all. It really all depends on the individual case of injury. In many cases, it can aid in lowering the severity of the symptoms, but wrapping will neither heal nor reverse the condition. It should only be used as a short term method of pain relief and used in conjunction with other methods.
Taping can be a viable method of preventing plantar fasciitis from occurring to start with. If you are already in pain from such a condition, then taping is something you should consider combining with all other treatments that were laid out in the above paragraphs. Should taping not work for you at all, then try some other methods instead.
It is recommended that you keep off your feet for a while. However, if you absolutely must walk while recovering from this condition, then you are strongly urged to tape up your foot. This will keep the pain from becoming even worse. Do remember that taping is, for the most part, a short term solution in treating heel pain.
This is why you should combine it with a device that is able to treat the symptoms in the long term. You may find that this is the best way to achieve positive results. These tried but true treatments are clinically proven to reduce the symptoms of plantar fasciitis and other related conditions.
There Are Different Ways to Wrap a Bandage
The one thing nurses can’t seem to agree on is which way is the “right” way to wrap up a wound or injured limb. If you are doing it yourself or getting someone to help you (help is recommended due to it being easier to get into position) you need to figure out which method feels best for you.
How The Makers of ACE Bandages Recommend You Wrap a Foot
The makers of ACE bandages have been helpful in releasing a video on their website on how to wrap certain body parts. This is how ACE suggests users of their product wrap up a foot.
- Begin at the ball of the foot, under the big toe. Continue over the foot, careful to fully cover everything.
- Each layer should overlap the previous. ACE recommends overlapping by half a width and not leaving any gaps but keeping things smooth and even.
- As you are treating the sole of the foot rather than the ankle, you should stop after covering two-thirds of the heel. The bandage should be sitting rather low on the ankle and not be wrapped all the way up so as to cover it.
- The bandage can be secured by elastic clips. If you are using the self-adhering type, just smooth down the end. ACE now provides an innovative snap fastener that makes finishing off a wrap easier.
This method is a little bit more complicated but very supportive.
- Firstly, you would begin much the same way as for the first technique. Wrap the bandage starting at the ball of the foot just under your toes.
- Layer as instructed in the primary method, but instead of going until you have reached the heel, continue to the heel straight away and then wrap the bandage all around it.
- Go back to the position where you started, from inside to the outside of your foot. The ACE bandage should now stop under the littlest toe.
- Now bring the bandage to the top of your foot.
- Finish by going below your foot so as to form a criss-cross shape. The part where the bandage crosses should be right in the center of the plantar fascia.
If You Use Kinesiology Tape
While the ACE bandage techniques certainly have their merits, many physical therapists swear by kinesiology tape, also known as KT for short. This is an adhesive substance that goes directly on the foot. It is latex-free and made of hypoallergenic cotton.
It pulls the skin up away from the muscle to allow for better lymph drainage and blood flow. It is recommended if you plan on being active in spite of your plantar fasciitis. Here is how you would apply it. The thing to remember is the carpenter’s axiom of measure twice, cut once.
- Measure the distance between the ball of your foot and the back of your heel.
- Cut the tape into four strips of this length.
- Measure how long the ball of your foot is from big toe to little toe.
- Cut four strips of this length and round the edges.
- Lay each strip the length of your foot over your arch. Secure it with a gentle rubbing of the hand.
- Use the other four strips to secure the strips over the ball of your foot. Rub those down gently as well.
More Tips on Wrapping
It works best if you have someone do the wrapping for you. However, if you must do it yourself, sit in a comfortable position with the affected foot on your opposite knee. Gently pull your toes up while the foot is being wrapped. You should feel a stretch but not pain. Be careful when getting out of bed or standing up. Go slowly so you do not fall and hurt yourself.
If you take medicine, whether over-the-counter or prescription, follow all of the directions precisely. Keep in mind that corticosteroid injections are only done in cases of most severe pain. Overuse of corticosteroids can actually weaken your plantar fascia. It may even diminish the pad that covers up your heel bone. Surgery will be a last-ditch scenario as it can severely weaken the arch.
How This All Works
Taping your foot when you have plantar fasciitis is beneficial in that it stabilizes the fascia ligament. When you tape your foot properly, the fascia’s movements become extremely limited. Many times, athletes might tape their feet during particular events to aid in preventing strain while exercising.
By putting limits on the fascia’s movement, this becomes an effective method to prevent the ligament from moving in an abnormal manner or stretching more than it should. In this way, it can prevent tears from developing in the tissue.
When you tape a foot for plantar fascia, it is vital that you keep your feet dry and clean. When you wash your feet, do not use a moisturizing soap to let the tape stick better to the surface. If you are using KT tape, it may be left on for quite a few days until the adhesive wears off and the tape peels away. It should be remembered that athletic tape must only be left on during the day.
Remove it at night to let the skin breathe. You may want to apply the tape in the morning to provide the feet support all through the day. If your heel pain is at its worst in the morning, try applying it at night before you go to bed. You can also do it before exercising to keep it from stretching too much.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis
While foot injuries are often associated with me, it is actually women who are more likely to suffer plantar fasciitis. These days, a lot of women wear high heeled shoes that ruin their feet for the sake of fashion. (Fun Fact: A couple of hundred years ago, high heels were considered masculine wear.)
The kinds of sportswomen are more likely to be involved in such as dance or gymnastics require a lot of jumping around. A bad landing can ruin a foot. While a lot of standing and walking is also associated with plantar fasciitis, a lot of traditionally “pink collar” jobs like teaching and nursing require long hours of standing.
While most plantar fasciitis patients are women, anyone can suffer this debilitating condition if they do any of the following often enough.
- Climb lots of steps or walk uphill
- Wear old, worn-out shoes with thin soles
- Neglect to do a warm-up before exercise
- Put on too much weight
- Have arches that are either too high or too low
- Standing in one place for a long period of time
If you do any of these things, it is important to take care of your feet. When walking upstairs or uphill be mindful of where your feet are. In fact, be mindful where your feet are when you are walking downhill or down steps as well. Otherwise, you may fall and need ACE bandages on another body part!
Replace your shoes when they start wearing out. Worn out shoes not only look bad but they are bad for your feet. Make sure the sole is supportive. Wearing high heels for a long time is not a good idea. Neither is it to go the opposite extreme and wear flip flops for a long period of time. Being overweight is never healthy for any part of your body.
If you must stand for a long period of time at least give your feet a few moments of respite. Even the Queen’s Guards are not expected to stand still for more than ten minutes at a time. They may stamp a foot or march in front of their sentry box to spare their feet during their two-hour duty. (Pro tip: Do not annoy these soldiers. They have loaded assault rifles and know how to use them.)
What Size Bandage to Use
ACE provides so many different styles of their product, it can be difficult to choose which is best. They generally come in two to six-inch widths. A wider bandage means more compression. For an adult-sized foot, a three or four-inch width should do the trick. For children or people with unusually petite feet, the narrower two-inch width should provide compression without restricting blood flow.
Important Dos and Don’ts
There are right ways and wrong ways to go about this. Doing it the wrong way can cause more harm than good.
- Make use of elastic bandages only within the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours after an injury.
- Combine the compression with rest, ice and elevation of the injured foot.
- Be gentle when administrating massage.
- Remove the bandage if your foot tingles or goes numb.
- Perform compression and ice at the same time. This leads to frostbite.
- Wrap the bandages too tightly. You do not want to cut off your circulation. You just want to reduce swelling.
- Make the mistake of thinking a wrap will prevent re-injury. Elastic bandages do not offer support. They are only for compression.
- Use gauze wraps. These are made for staunching open wounds and just are not springy enough.
Other Things to do With Compression
You may get some extra pain relief with shoe inserts specially crafted by your doctor or purchased over-the-counter. Your doctor might order custom made arch supports for you if needed. There are generic insoles and inserts available on the market that may also make a marked difference.
Supportive bands created with the purpose of being worn during the day should be wrapped around the center of your foot, over your arch, and closed with a hook and loop fastener if they are not the self-adhering type.
They offer compression which aids in alleviating plantar fasciitis pain all while supporting the arch of your foot. Make sure that you wear the bands on both of your feet even if only one foot is troubling you.
And now a word or two about night splints. Night splints do their intended job while you sleep. Most people sleep with their feet pointed down, which shortens the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon.
Wearing night splints while you sleep keeps your feet at a ninety-degree angle. In this way, as opposed to shortening your plantar fascia, you get a therapeutic and constant stretch all while you sleep. Talk to your doctor about whether one would be beneficial for you.
There are a couple of products ACE has made specifically for plantar fasciitis that you may want to try. The ACE Brand Therapeutic Arch support provides support and cushioning as well as compression.
The ACE Brand Plantar Fasciitis Sleep Support relieves morning pain and is soft and breathable enough to be worn while sleeping. However, it is not recommended for diabetics or people with neuropathy or vascular disease nor should you put your weight on it.
It is possible to treat plantar fasciitis at home. It can be a good idea to alternate the RICE method with the MICE method. In either case, the C stances for compression and ACE bandages may be the best way to achieve this. Do keep in mind that compression with ACE bandages is a short term solution for pain relief and reduction of swelling. Do not forget to do all the other things you need to do in order to get your feet back in a working condition.