Introduction: Prophylactic taping is commonly used to prevent ankle injuries during sports. However, unnatural constraint of the ankle joint may increase the risk of injury to proximal joints such as the knee. The association between ankle taping and knee joint loading during open sporting tasks has not been quantified. This research aimed to measure changes in knee and ankle kinetics and kinematics during dynamic athletic activities undertaken with and without ankle taping.
Methods: A kinematic and inverse dynamics model was used to determine ankle and knee joint motion and loading in 22 healthy male participants undertaking running and sidestepping tasks. Both tasks were randomized to planned and unplanned conditions and undertaken with and without the use of ankle tape.
Results: At the knee, peak internal rotation moments (P < 0.001) and peak varus moments (P < 0.05) were significantly reduced during all running and sidestepping trials (planned and unplanned) when undertaken with ankle tape. Internal rotation impulse (P < 0.001) was reduced for sidestepping tasks. Varus impulse during unplanned sidestepping maneuvers (P = 0.04) was reduced with the use of ankle tape. However, there was a trend toward increased valgus moments and impulse for planned sidestepping trials undertaken with ankle tape (P = 0.056). Taping reduced the range of motion at the ankle in all three planes (P < 0.05). Peak inversion (P < 0.001) was reduced for running trials only. Average eversion and peak dorsiflexion moments were significantly reduced in sidestepping tasks by use of taping.
Conclusions: By limiting motion at the ankle, taping increased mechanical stability at this joint. Ankle taping also provided protective benefits to the knee via reduced internal rotation moments and varus impulses during both planned and unplanned maneuvers. Medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligament injuries may, however, occur through increased valgus impulse during sidestepping undertaken with ankle tape.