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In part, the believed effectiveness of taping in preventing injuries may be in the increased proprioception that it provides through stimulation of cutaneous mechanoreceptors. The objective of this study was to examine the effectiveness of strips of athletic tape applied over the skin of the ankle in improving ankle joint movement and position perception.
The study consisted of a single-group, repeated-measures design, where all subjects were tested under all conditions presented in a fully randomized order. Testing was performed in the biomechanics laboratory at Marquette University.
Twenty healthy males (mean age = 20.3 ± 1.5 yr) participated in this study.
Ankle joint movement and position perception for plantar flexion and dorsiflexion were tested using a specially designed apparatus. Each individual was tested with and without two 12.7-cm (5-inch) strips of tape applied in a distal-proximal direction directly to the skin in front of and behind the subject's talocrural joint.
Data were analyzed with repeated-measures analyses of variance (ANOVA) models. Our results indicate that under the nonweightbearing condition, taping significantly improved (p < .05) the ability of the subjects to perceive ankle joint position, especially for a 10° plantar-flexed position. In the weightbearing condition, the use of tape did not significantly alter (p > .05) the ability of the subjects to perceive ankle position. Similarly, taping did not alter ankle movement perception in either the weightbearing or nonweightbearing condition (p > .05).
We concluded that increased cutaneous sensory feedback provided by strips of athletic tape applied across the ankle joint of healthy individuals can help improve ankle joint position perception in nonweightbearing, especially for a midrange plantar-flexed ankle position.