This study from Iran set out to investigate the effects of using kinesiology tape on dynamic knee control in a group of female athletes. An increase in knee valgus in landing is thought to increase the risk of many knee injuries such as ACL and MCL injuries. Generally, females are thought to be at a biomechanical disadvantage with regards to knee valgus control and are also more likely to suffer knee injuries. It is believed that the hip external rotation muscles are important to help to control the femur, whilst the tibialis anterior may be important in controlling the position of the tibia.
The study looked at 40 healthy female athletes who were identified as having significant dynamic knee valgus collapse when landing on a single leg. They were then randomly assigned to a kinesiology taping group or a sham taping group. Prior to any intervention, all subjects were tested with the following tests:
- Knee kinematics: video analysis was conducted to measure knee valgus and knee flexion angles when the subjects dropped from a 30cm high box, landing on their dominant leg.
- Y-balance test (normalised for leg length)
- Knee joint position sense error: with the subject’s eyes closed, the knee was passively flexed to 30⁰, passively returned to neutral and the subject had to then try to actively return their leg to 30⁰ flexion position.
After baseline testing, the two groups were taped. The “kinesiology taping group” had tape applied over the gluteus medius and tibialis anterior muscles with “paper off” tension whilst the muscles were in a lengthened position. The “sham taping” group had tape applied over the same muscles, also with “paper off” tension, but in a neutral/non-lengthened position. This was left in place for 72 hours and then the same tests were repeated.
Those in the kinesiology taping group had significantly reduced knee valgus angle on landing but there was minimal change in the sham taping group. Neither group had a change to the knee flexion angle when landing. The Y-balance scores and knee joint position sense error also both improved in the kinesiology taping group but not in the sham taping group.
This study would suggest that in healthy female athletes, the “correct” application of kinesiology tape, that is when the tape is applied over lengthened muscles, may result in positive changes to the dynamic knee control, balance and position sense of those athletes. Conversely, placing the tape in the same location, but without pre-stretching the tissue, did not show significant improvements in these tests. Further study is warranted in a larger cohort, and perhaps separating the gluteus taping from the tibialis anterior taping to determine whether both sites need to be taped to obtain the positive results shown, or whether either tape alone may achieve the same outcomes. The study findings are also not generalisable to male athletes. However, this study adds to the growing body of evidence that kinesiology taping can positively alter dynamic control in athletes.
Saki, F., Romiani, H., Ziya, M. & Gheidi, N., (2022). The effects of gluteus medius and tibialis anterior kinesio taping on postural control, knee kinematics, and knee proprioception in female athletes with dynamic knee valgus. Physical Therapy in Sport 53, 84-90