One of the philosophical decisions made by novice athletic trainers is determining which is better: taping or bracing the ankle joint. There are several factors to consider including efficiency, stability, injury prevention and cost effectiveness. Ankle sprains are one of the most common athletic injuries with most occurring to the lateral ligaments of the ankle.1, 2,3,4,5 In American Football ankle sprains comprise approximately 10-15% of all injuries whereas 70% of college basketball players have had at least one ankle sprain. Furthermore ankle injuries are common in soccer, field hockey and other sports.3 To determine between taping an ankle or using a brace, effectiveness, efficiency, and cost effect are taken into consideration.
When researchers compare taping and bracing there are several considerations which must be addressed. The researcher has to look at the type of tape, how the tape is applied, and whether there are extra measures taken such at spatting along with a normal ankle tape job.5 The researcher also has to look at the type of brace, how the brace is applied, who applies the brace, and how long the brace will last in an active sport season.5
Researchers have studied how to treat an ankle sprain, but there are not as many that have looked at whether using tape or using a brace is more effective in preventing injury.1, 3 Those who focus on prevention take into account proprioception, patient satisfaction, cost-benefit, and kinematics.2, 3, 4, 5 Evaluating various evidence provided in research, athletic trainers can decide which intervention is best suited for their practice.
Studies have shown taping an ankle can limit range of motion if done correctly.1, 5 Another study done by Reuter, Dahl, and Senchina showed that prophylactic benefits of taping can decrease with activity time as the tape stretches and range of motion increases.5 Limiting range of motion is important in preventing an ankle sprain because if the ankle is placed in neutral, ninety degrees of flexion, it is in the most stable position for that joint.5 This is why athletic trainers tape in anatomical neutral (90 degrees) of ankle dorsiflexion. Positioning the ankle in this manner will provide a more stable joint decreasing the likelihood of an inversion injury. Researchers have found that more than half of ankle injuries occur on the lateral side of the ankle, 2 so when athletic trainers tape they tape from the medial side to the lateral side to stabilize from inversion even more.
Stability and confidence are important for athletes so that they do their best in a performance. Taping improves stability and confidence by managing to reassure the athlete.1 A study by Evans and Clough showed that stability was improved in both planned and unplanned movements.1
Unfortunately, several complications can occur with taping. These problems can be dermatitis, skin abnormalities, tape cuts, blisters, and even circulation problems if the tape...