Does ankle taping or strapping reduce injury risk?

Taping and strapping has been used for years by physiotherapists, trainers and athletes in an attempt to reduce injury and pain. The evidence for it’s use, however varies widely depending on the area you are taping. This is important to know – because tape does cost money, takes time to apply and can often cause skin irritation. In short, if we are going to do it, let’s make sure it’s worthwhile!

Ankle taping – does it work?

“Greater benefit is achieved in applying prophylactic ankle taping or bracing to athletes with a history of ankle sprain, compared with those without previous sprains.”Leibbrandt et al

This study showed that ankle taping was useful for preventing ankle sprains primarily if you have had a previous ankle sprain

 “…during realistic competitive soccer performance reflecting a halftime of 45 minutes–ankle tape might lose most of its assumed initial mechanical effectiveness”Best et al

This study showed in soccer that the rigidness of strapping tape reduced after 45 minutes of play and so more movement was then allowed for at the ankle joint. It is unclear, however whether the tape continues to provide more of a sensory awareness benefit after the tape has begun to stretch.

Taping or bracing? Which is best?

In the study by Leibbrandt et al they concluded that because taping is more expensive and time consuming – bracing should be seriously considered for people who have had a previous ankle sprain and want to reduce their risk of re-injury.

There are many ankle braces on the market, and we stock many options to suit your injury history and anatomy.

If you would like to get fitted for an ankle brace – our physiotherapists will do a detailed assessment of your ankle and choose the correct option for you. Head to our Book Online page and book in for an Initial Assessment to have your brace fitted.

Preventing skin irritation from tape

Many people who try sports tape get a skin irritation or rash after application. There are a number of strategies we can implement to reduce this risk. These include the following:

-Applying a hypo-allergenic underlay tape such as Fixomul. Come in to the clinic today if you would like to trial or purchase this tape

-Applying Skin Prep spray – check out the video below where Megan speaks about the use of this spray. It can be purchased directly from our clinic.

-Not leaving it on for as long – the longer tape stays on the more likely you will get skin irritation. The tape blocks some of your skin’s natural regenerative processes and the longer exposure to adhesives from the tape can increase your risk

-Consider bracing instead of taping – braces have an initially higher cost but end up being more cost effective in the long run. They are effective and easy to apply. Book in for an initial appointment to have a brace fitted up over here

Conclusions

Taping can be an effective short term measure for improving stability and proprioception after you have had an ankle sprain. Our physiotherapists will often use it in the short term if our patient’s don’t have an ankle brace. But if support is needed for longer periods greater than 4-6 weeks, bracing may be a more cost effective option with less chance of skin irritation

Evidence does not really support the use of tape as a preventative measure if you have never sprained your ankle before. If you are in a higher risk sport such as netball, basketball, soccer or footy – consider using a quality ankle brace instead. It has an initial outlay but is more cost effective in the long term!

Lastly, nothing replaces having great control, strength and balance. If you feel wobbly standing on single leg or can’t effectively hop and land on your injured side – you have not yet completed your rehabilitation! Make a booking today and reduce your risk of re-injury.

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