Effect of elastic taping on postural control deficits in subjects with healthy ankles, copers, and individuals with functional ankle instability
Ankle sprains are the most common injury among physically active people, with common sequelae including repeated episodes of giving way, termed functional ankle instability. Copers are a cohort in ankle research comprised of those who have sprained their ankle but have not suffered any further dysfunction. The use of an elastic tape, Kinesio Tape, in sports medicine practice has recently gained popularity and may help improve postural control deficits related to functional ankle instability. The purpose of this study was to examine the immediate and prolonged effects of Kinesio Taping on postural control in healthy, coper, and unstable ankles as measured through single-limb balance on a force plate.
Sixty physically active, college-aged participants (72.5 ± 9.7 cm, 74.2 ± 16.2 kg, 21.5 ± 2.6 years) were stratified into healthy, coper, or unstable groups using the Cumberland Ankle Instability Tool (CAIT) combined with their history of ankle injury. Dependent variables included time-to-boundary (TTB) measures and traditional center of pressure (COP) measures in both the mediolateral (frontal) and anteroposterior (sagittal) planes. Testing was performed prior to tape application, immediately after application of the tape, 24 hours following tape application, and immediately after tape removal.
Significant differences between groups were observed for COP standard deviation and range in the sagittal plane. Significant differences between tape conditions for TTB absolute minima and standard deviation were also noted. Post hoc testing revealed large to medium effect sizes for the group differences and very small effect sizes for the differences between conditions.
Our study did not reveal decisively relevant changes following application of Kinesio Tape to the ankle. However, we did observe sagittal plane postural control deficits in subjects with ankle instability measured through summary COP variables over 20-second trials.
Ankle instability is a concern for many clinicians. Kinesio Taping, although a popular form of clinical intervention, remains understudied. Evidence from this study does not support the use of Kinesio Taping for improving postural control deficits in those with ankle instability.