Ankle injuries account for up to 30% of all sports injuries and result in decreased performance and instability of the joint. Taping is commonly used for joint support and to prevent additional ligamentous injury. After as little as 10 minutes of exercise, however, ankle tape becomes lax and loses its structural support. PURPOSE: Our study aimed to understand how ankle tape laxity specifically impacts dynamic balance during a soccer kick and while balancing on an uneven surface. METHODS: University students age 18-23 who were considered physically active (ACSM guidelines) were recruited. Three different trials were conducted (no tape (NT), tape (T), and tape post exercise (TP)). During each trial they completed three assessments to test for static balance on an even surface, static balance on an uneven surface, and dynamic balance during a soccer kick. Total distance traveled by center of mass (COM), range of motion (ROM) in frontal and sagittal planes at the talocrurual joint, and average and maximum velocities in the frontal and sagittal plane were measured by force plate and electro-goniometers. After completing all of the conditions for the T trial, subjects then performed a series of exercises designed to imitate common movements within sporting activities in which the ankle tape may become lax: running on a treadmill, squats, lunges, and agility ladder drills. The same measurements were collected post-exercise (TP). Balance measurements were compared between all three trials using MANOVA (SPSS). RESULTS: It was anticipated that adding tape would yield a smaller ROM, especially in the frontal plane, and this was found in the kick condition for NT (11.33 deg ±6.87) vs. T (8.32 deg ±4.41) but unexpectedly the TP trial yielded a smaller ROM when compared to both other (6.84 deg ±4.04); though none of these changes were significant. Additionally, no significant differences were observed for total distance traveled of the ankle joint, or the velocities of joint movement between trials (T, NT, TP) p > 0.05. CONCLUSIONS: Taping of the ankle did not have a significant impact on dynamic balance before and after exercise. Some trials showed expected trends, suggesting that further research may elucidate the effects of tape on exercise.

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