By: 25 October 2011

Eamonn Delahunt, PhD, et al
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. August 2009. Vol. 90. No. 8. Pp. 1418-1422

Chronic ankle instability can be the end of an athlete’s career. Efforts have been made to research the best way to rehab this problem and then protect it from recurring. One of those methods is ankle taping. In this study, the effect of taping on the ankle joint and the rear foot movement on landing jumps is the focus.

The study was done by a group of physical therapists at the School of Physiotherapy and Performance Society in Dublin, Ireland. The subjects in the study were young men and women with a history of chronic ankle instability but who had never had rehab or surgery for the problem.

After learning how to do a drop landing each subject was tested in three ways. First, they jumped three times on to the unstable foot/ankle without any supportive tape. Then they repeated the same three jumps with tape around the ankle. The next step was to complete 10 repetitions each of hopping, ladder, and cutting drills before being tested again. This final drop landing test was done with the tape still supporting the ankle, but this time the test was performed after exercising for 25-minutes.

The authors give clear, step-by-step instructions on how they applied the tape. As for the force plate, this computerized device records the moment the foot hits the ground and the amount of force exerted. At the same time, 12 high-speed motion capture cameras were used to record ankle and foot motion from all angles.

Once the testing was done and the data was collected, analysis showed that the taping did hold the ankle better than without taping. And the tape was still effective after exercise. Results weren’t any different or better between jumps made before and after exercise with tape. There was more ankle plantar flexion and rear foot inversion when there was no tape used to support and hold a neutral ankle/foot position.

There were a few caveats in this study. Only one method of taping was tested and there were only 11 people in the study. Future studies are advised in order to repeat the results with more subjects. Finally, drop landing onto a force plate in a controlled laboratory study doesn’t really mimic the playing conditions on the field. The authors suggest future studies also include using different drop and jump landing protocols.