by Mitch Hauschildt, MA, ATC, CSCS
This post is a bit personal to me, because last fall I was out for a run one day after teaching my second 8 hour course in a row and was pretty tired and stumbled while running on an uneven sidewalk. As I went down, I tried to catch myself with my right hand and injured my wrist.
I finished my teaching trip and came home to my favorite hand surgeon and her physician assistant, who happens to be my wife. After some imaging and testing, it appears that I tore my Triangular Fibrocartilate Complex, otherwise known as the TFCC. It is a cartilage and ligament complex that pads and stabilizes your lateral wrist and helps to control motions like pronation and supination. Tearing it isn’t an uncommon injury in athletes, so I have had several patients over the year that I have helped recover from the injury.
Typically, the treatment involves either a surgical intervention to repair the damaged tissue. Or, if you decide for the more conservative approach, a long arm cast (past the elbow) for 6 weeks to control all pronation and supination to allow the tissue to fully heal and scar tissue to form and support the area. As a very active father of 4 kids who travels a lot and performs a lot of manual, hands on therapies at work, neither of these options are a good fit for me.
I decided to try taking the helical taping application that we teach as part of the Rocktape FMT courses and apply them to myself. Typically we use it to control pronation, but we can also reverse it to control supination. With that in mind, I did both. I figure this way, I can control both movement patterns in a comfortable way that still allows me to be functional on a daily basis, while limiting my motion in order to allow the area to heal and simultaneously reduce my pain in the area.
Thankfully, the taping technique worked great for me. It did control my range of motion and reduced my pain significantly. I have tried it with a few athletes as well and I’m seeing great results.
You can vary the amount of restriction in range by positioning the wrist into more or less supination or pronation when you apply the tape. For example, if you want to restrict more pronation, then you will want to place the wrist into supination when you tape that helical pattern. Obviously the reverse would be true if you are just looking for more support and awareness. And, if you want to restrict both pronation and supination like I did, tape one pattern while in supination and then pronation when you are taping the other pattern. If done correctly, you will feel a slight tug each way when you try to rotate at the wrist.
Let’s be clear, it isn’t going to limit you like a long cast will. And it certainly isn’t surgery. And, my wrist still bothers me from time to time. But, I do think that this is a really nice intervention for people who’s lifestyle doesn’t fit with a long arm cast or surgery.
To see how I apply it, watch this video: