Recent research regarding optimising ankle performance when strapped was published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 20(29017)236-240.
The researchers looked at the effects of both Rocktape (kinesiology (elastic) tape) and normal rigid strapping tape. The research was done on 24 healthy university students, 12 men and 12 women aged between 19 and 24. They all reported no musculoskeletal injury in the preceding 6 months. Three conditions were tested: no tape, rigid tape and elastic tape.
The results were interesting!
When comparing scores between those who had the best score with those of the worst proprioceptive score when not taped, they found that the best scorers were worse off with tape whereas the below average scorers were better off when taped. The type of tape used did not make a significant difference.
Interestingly, all participants felt significantly more supported and confident about their proprioceptive performance when wearing Rocktape compared to rigid tape. There was no difference in perception of comfort between groups or participants. The suggestion here is those who have reduced proprioception may be better off having their ankles strapped while those with good proprioception are probably better off not being strapped.
But that means having proprioception assessed to start with, something that is not readily available to most athletes.
One finding was that regardless of type of tape, comfort is essential. So, if you get your ankle strapped, make sure it does feel comfortable. Another finding was that Rocktape was more comfortable and with proprioception in mind it may be preferred over rigid tape. But care here! This study was about proprioception, not support, as may be required for an injured ankle.