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Does Taping An Ankle Sprain Improve Stability?

Posted on: 05/31/2007
Ankle sprains are a common problem among athletes. Many athletes who sprain their ankles one time, resprain it again. Ankle taping is one treatment method used to prevent reinjury.The researchers in this study asked two questions. Does ankle taping work? If so, why does it work?

Thirty people with recent ankle sprains signed up to participate in this study. Each one was tested using a hopping test and a balance test. These two tests were given under three conditions: 1) with real tape, 2) with placebo (pretend) tape, and 3) with no tape (control).

The subjects were told that both types of taping worked equally well but for different reasons. The real taping method was called mechanical tape. The placebo tape was referred to as proprioceptive tape. Everyone wore a blindfold when the tape was put on. And a cloth skirt was put around the lower leg so they could not see the tape or the ankle.

The two tests used are known to be reliable and valid measures of ankle stability. The researchers found no difference in performance from one trial to the next. The only thing that changed was the peoples' sense of confidence in the treatment. Everyone felt better wearing the tape. Both types of taping worked equally well.

Although taping didn't improve performance, it didn't make it worse either. The authors suggest continued taping is still a good idea. It may prevent injury and it doesn't impair function. Taping does not appear to improve function.

Kate Sawkins, et al. The Placebo Effect of Ankle Taping in Ankle Instability. In Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. May 2007. Vol. 39. No. 5. Pp. 781-787.

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