Background: Taping of the shoulder is common in many sports, particularly Australian football, a contact sport that often involves marking (catching) the ball overhead and has a high incidence of shoulder instability.
Hypothesis: Taping of the shoulder reduces glenohumeral joint laxity and improves proprioception without impairing function.
Study design: Crossover study design.
Methods: 33 male players aged 18–31 years were recruited from a local Australian football club. The dominant shoulder of each player was tested with and without taping in a randomised fashion by an examiner blinded to the presence or absence of taping. The tests were (1) inferior glenohumeral joint laxity (the Orthopaedic Research Institute laxometer), (2) shoulder joint position sense accuracy using an optical tracking system, and (3) handballing accuracy.
Results: The methods for testing laxity and joint position sense had good intraobserver reliability and sensitivity. All subjects tolerated the taping and testing. Glenohumeral joint laxity (p = 0.75), joint position sense (p = 0.56) and handballing accuracy (p = 0.6) were not changed by taping.
Conclusions: Taping of the shoulder joint in uninjured and non-symptomatic Australian football players in a pattern that attempted not to restrict their range of overhead movement did not significantly affect the accuracy of joint position sense, inferior laxity or handball accuracy.
Clinical relevance: These data suggest that taping of the shoulder is unlikely to decrease the incidence of injury—specifically dislocation—of the shoulder in Australian football players.
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Funding A grant was received from the Australian Football League (AFL) Research Board.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval Obtained.
Patient consent Obtained.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.