Tape

The Tape

The best tape I’ve found for fixing feet is Leukoplast, a brand of non-stretchy zinc oxide tap, it’s tough, easy to tear into the right length, very sticky and there’s a whole host of tricks (see below) to get it to stick even more!

Sadly Leuokplast only comes in a light flesh colour, please do consider contacting them here to request they expand the range of tones available.

The tape comes in several widths, you might need to think which one is best for the size of your foot, and the size of the splits/blisters/friction burns you’re covering. I use the 2.5cm most often, if you need a thicker band you can stick two lengths parallel with a little overlap.

Please note I am in no way qualified as a medical professional, below should not be taken or used as medical advice, please do seek qualified advice if needed!

Pre-taping
I generally sterilise any open wounds with a spray or wipe and let any residue dry before applying the tape. You can tape over plasters, which is the most hygienic method, though the area under the plaster will not be sticking to you and will weaken the overall structure of the taping, so if you do use a plaster use the smallest one that will cover the area exposed then trim away most of the wings. The tape is stickier than the plaster.

Clean and dry your feet, it’s always best to apply tape at least a few hours before you need to dance on it. Once you are sweating or have dirty feet the glue won’t set as well, but it can still be done.

For splits/blisters on the ball of your foot you want the tape to go at least from the top of the outside of the knuckle of your big toe to the top of the knuckle of your little toe (the little toe side usually comes under more wear and tear than the inside of the foot). You can just continue the tape to make one complete loop, overlapping a bit. This can also cover any friction burns on the top of your foot (though with good foot articulation these can be avoided!). It can also make the whole tape loop more secure, but I have had the tape roll up on itself on the top of my feet, even though the tape on my sole was very securely attached.

If you do make a loop the overlap can go on the inside of your big toe, where it’s most protected from rubbing against the floor, but you can put it on your little toe side and benefit from a double layer of tape. There can be a lot of friction on that part of your foot if you’re doing a lot of sliding/rolling over the outside of your foot. If you have areas of thicker skin/calluses/blisters they can tell you where the tape might get pushed around or worn down faster. Let your feet talk to you!

Folding
Having decided whether to loop or not, cut or tear the tape to the required length, watch out for any loose threads, which should be pulled off. Without touching the sticky side too much, fold about 2mm of the tape over along the whole length of a long edge, sticking sticky side to sticky side. This prevents the tape from rolling up on itself as the edge gets pushed around. Then do this along the opposite edge, unless you’re running two lengths of tape parallel, in which case just do it on one edge, and put the fold along the opposite edge on the second length of tape.

You want these folds to be on the outsides of the final taping. I’ve tried it with folds along both edges of both tapes, and a little overlap of the two, but it never seems to quite work and I lose the tape quickly, but either way this central join is a spot where the tap easily rolls, if anyone finds a better solution do spread the word!

Two tapes/overlap
If the dancing you’re doing involves predominantly sliding the sole of your foot towards yourself, apply the strip closest to the toes first, then the second one nearer the heel. An overlap of around 4mm seems to work ok, though this is a weak spot where the tape can roll. If you’re mostly pushing the sole of your feet away from yourself then apply the lengths in the opposite order. This ordering protects the exposed join as best as possible. If you’re sliding in both directions then do whichever order seems easiest.

Taping
Placing one end of the tape where you want your loop to overlap, or on the big toe/little toe knuckle (I find to start at the little toe easiest) apply the tape without stretching it, the glue is what will hold it to your foot, not the tightness of the wrapping. Try to follow the contours of the ball of your foot (or other body part) as best as you can without any part of the tape not sticking to your foot, press firmly as you go along. It took me quite a bit of trial and error to learn how much you can curve the line of the tape.

If I mess up I normally find it better to start again, once the glue has come in contact with skin and been taken off it is far less sticky and I normally end up spending more time and energy fixing or retaping later on.

Extreme Taping
You can melt the glue over a candle, lighter or other flame. Be sure to take precautions and never do this anywhere that flames are not permitted. after putting the fold(s) in run the length of the tape back and forth over the flame, far enough away that there is no blackening, you are heating the tape up, not cooking it! The tape is quite flammable and smells very bad when burnt.
Let the tape cool a little, you can test with your fingers if it has cooled enough that it won’t burn you, then apply swiftly as above.

Melting the glue dramatically increases both its stickiness and the sense of ritual.

Setting
Press the tape firmly into your foot with your dry hands, directly into your foot without any rubbing or sideways push. Hold for around 10 seconds, before moving to the next bit. If your hands are wet or sweaty this can stop the glue setting.
Then try to avoid friction on the tape till the glue has dried, I think this takes around 10 minutes, but it probably depends on temperature, humidity, age of the tape and more. Best seems to be to just stand still, particularly on carpet, for 10 minutes. Towards the end of the time roll your weight across the parts of your foot taped. This is the ideal situation, but I have often just dived straight back into dancing after applying the tape and been fine, though spinning on the balls of your feet will strip the tape off very quickly if it hasn’t dried.

Dusting on
If you do start to dance soon after applying the tape after some minutes your weight will start to push the glue through the fibres of the tape, making the exposed surface sticky. This is the moment to head to the dusty corner of the room or find some carpet to stand on. The dust/fibres will stick to the glue, it won’t look beautiful but will prevent the tape from sticking to the floor and pulling away from your foot. If you have time to let the glue dry fully it will take much longer for the tape to look dirty.

Maintaining
Once it’s dry you can shower with the tape on, and I think it actually makers it stick better. I’ve often kept the same tape on for up to four days, while this might not be totally hygienic it can save a lot of time and effort! You can also apply a second layer directly onto the first if the first starts to get worn through, or is sticking well but has become too dirty, just pull/wipe off as much dirt as you can first. The tape seems to stick better to itself than to skin, so running repairs work well.

Removing
Can be painful! If you’ve taped over splits or blisters, be careful that you don’t open them further while removing the tape.
If you’ve taped over hair and the glue has really set… well, I’m sure you know what it’ll be like.

Experiment, deviate, elaborate.
This is open source knowledge, add to it!