Ankle proprioception plays an essential role in sport performance and sport injury (Han et al. 2015a). The effect of different types of taping on ankle proprioception during functional activities is
still unclear. This study investigated the effects of kinesio taping (KT) and athletic taping (AT) on ankle proprioception while weight-bearing in a normal stance.
Twenty-four healthy university students (12 M, 12F, mean 22 years), without musculoskeletal injury in the previous 6 months, volunteered. The Active Movement Extent Discrimination Apparatus (Han,
Waddington, Adams, Anson, & Liu, 2015) was employed to measure ankle proprioception under normal stance conditions. The three testing conditions: barefoot, KT and AT were conducted in random order,
with the left or right foot randomly assigned for testing. After the ankle proprioception tests, participants were asked to rate their perceived comfort, support and proprioceptive performance under
both taping techniques.
Mean Area Under the Curve (AUC) discrimination scores (95% CIs) were: Barefoot: .813 (.791-.835), KT: .809 (.788-.830), and AT: .790 (.766-.814). Repeated measures ANOVA showed neither any significant
difference associated with taping compared with the barefoot condition (F1,23=1.11, p=0.30), nor any difference between KT and AT (F1,23=1.86, p=0.19). For comparison with previous research, the group
was then divided according to their barefoot scores into a group of 13 participants with scores below the barefoot mean, and 11 with scores above. A further ANOVA conducted using this grouping
structure showed a significant interaction (F1,22=8.62, p=0.01) indicating that performers who scored above average when bare foot were made worse when taped, whereas below-average performers when
bare foot were improved by taping. Type of taping had no significant effect (F1,22= 2.05, p=0.17).
Pearson’s correlations were calculated between participants’ actual proprioceptive performance (AUC scores) and ratings of perceived comfort, support and performance. For both KT and AT, only ratings
of perceived comfort when taped were significantly associated with actual proprioceptive performance (both r>0.44, p<0.03). Ratings of perceived support and perceived performance were significantly
correlated (both r> 0.42, p<0.04), but neither was significantly correlated with actual performance (both p> 0.31).
Taping around the foot and ankle may amplify sensory input in a way that enhances proprioception of poor performers but overloads input that impairs proprioception of those who originally performed
well when bare foot. Thus, screening of ankle proprioception under barefoot, weight-bearing conditions may be needed to identify those who would benefit from taping. In addition, clinicians and
coaches may use comfort when taped as an indicator to guide the application of taping, as it is significantly correlated with actual proprioceptive performance.