Taping has been a part of sport for decades. It provides support to joints that are unstable or loose. We’ve all seen athletes lightly sprain an ankle in an important game and rather than sitting out and starting rehab, taping it up and running back in as soon as they can tolerate it.

With athletic tape, kinesiotape, Mueller tape and other varieties, some basic analysis should be done on what are the benefits. Are we really stabilizing joints? Are we giving up on mobility or flexibility when we are taped? Do we change our mechanics when we are taped? I’ve taped many players in many different sports with different types of tape and been told “it made all the difference in the world”, “it helped a little” and “it didn’t help at all”. Something’s going on.

Bicici, et al 2012 took 15 male basketball players with chronic inversion sprains.  They performed 6 performance tests (hopping test, single limb hurdle test, standing heel rise test, vertical jump test, star excursion balance test, and the kinesthetic ability trainer test) with no tape, with placebo taping, with athletic tape and with kinesiotape.

With the exception of poor performance on the vertical jump test and heel raise test with athletic tape; none of the variations had any statistically different results! For the majority of our measures no tape, placebo tape, athletic tape and kinesiotape had the same results! This should make us question how necessary taping really is in all but the most extreme cases.

Raymond, et al 2012 performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of taping and bracing on proprioception on chronically unstable ankles. Studies included were controlled, cross-over design proprioceptive acuity with and without taping/bracing was reported. Joint position was included in most but not all of the studies.

19 of the 32 measurements taken showed no significant effect, 10 indicated that taping and bracing helped and 3 indicated it hindered proprioception.

At this time, it is worth really reconsidering when, why and how we tape. Is it worth it?