The influence of taping and training on aspects of ankle proprioception and athletic performance
Sports participation imparts a risk of injury. By considering the risk factors involved and taking appropriate action, many injuries can be prevented, or at least their severity minimised. Among the many injuries sustained in sport ankle injury is well substantiated to be one of the most prevalent, particularly ankle sprain in football. While ankle supports are commonly used in an attempt to decrease the risk of ankle injury, there are concerns over their effect upon performance and the actual mechanism of support. Taping is a universally accepted form of ankle prophylaxis, reportedly protecting the ankle by providing joint stability and enhancing proprioceptive input. Proprioceptive training is used in rehabilitation to reduce proprioceptive deficits and is beginning to be used as a tool in prevention, again by enhancing proprioception. However, despite their widespread use, the proprioceptive effects of both taping and training are unclear for healthy subjects. An investigation was undertaken to confirm results from preceding studies in the literature, concerning the prevalence of ankle injury in football. By means of an injury survey over two football seasons, the high incidence of injury to the ankle was confirmed. This prompted exploration of the influence of taping and training by investigating the consequences of their use upon athletic performance, and their proprioceptive effect upon the ankles of healthy football players. Neither taping nor training was shown to significantly affect athletic performance, so assuaging concerns over any detriment caused by their prophylactic use. Examination of their proprioceptive effects revealed a slight increase in postural sway with taping and proprioceptive training, though this was not overall statistically significant. Significance was seen in centre of balance positioning, with taping causing the centre of balance to shift to the left and proprioceptive training to the right in single leg stance and left in double leg stance. Consideration of electromyography results revealed varying changes in muscle activity due to taping and training dependent upon the muscle examined and its action in postural stability. The conclusion is that both taping and training can be used without concern for impairment of performance but their overall effect on proprioception in the healthy player is still questionable. It may be that the sportsperson is at an optimum level of proprioception that cannot be improved. Nevertheless, knowledge of the proprioceptive level for the individual is useful for rehabilitation and there is still scope to further investigate this phenomenon, particularly in rehabilitation of the injured sportsperson. More importantly, the research paves the way for investigation into the effect of these prophylactic measures on incidence of injury. If either taping or proprioceptively training the healthy ankle can reduce the incidence of ankle injury in football, then their long-term use must be considered.