Physio sports taping benefits
In our previous blog we have discussed the theories behind the use for sports taping. The first blog focused on taping for ankle injuries
. In this blog we will look at sports taping shoulder injuries. Particularly shoulder taping for rugby and other contact sports.
Anatomy of the shoulder
The shoulder joint is a very shallow ball-and-socket joint. The stability of the shoulder is provided by a complex capsule and cuff comprised of ligaments and muscles that encase the joint. We need the shoulder to be functional and strong through a huge range of motion. This means the ligaments and muscles need to allow both movement and stability.
Shoulder dislocation and subluxation
When a shoulder is subluxed or dislocated, the ligaments that encase the joint are stretched and sometimes torn. This can create laxity within the joint, which can in turn result in more frequent dislocations. The most common position for a dislocation when the arm is in 90 degrees abduction and external rotation. We call this the “stop-sign” position. Forceful or repetitive pressure in this position can result in the ball (humeral head) sliding forward relative to the socket. For this reason, shoulder taping is often used to help provide stability when returning to sports. The aim of taping is to limit the range of motion into positions where dislocation is likely.
Sports taping shoulder techniques form the final part of a rehab program
Taping should be utilised when an athlete has worked through a thorough rehab program. If a return to sports plan is a pyramid, then taping forms the very tip of the pyramid. Taping cannot cover-up significant injuries. It does not make up for grossly unstable, weak or painful joints. Prior to utilising taping, a shoulder should have all available range and strength restored. The injured shoulder should also undergo extensive sports-related training before relying on taping for structural support.
Taping should then be used to provide support, confidence, and restrict shoulder movement into ranges where injury is likely.
With that in mind – let’s take a look at what the science says about shoulder taping. Particularly, given we are in Randwick, Sydney – what does it say about shoulder taping for rugby and contact sports?
What is the evidence for sports taping shoulder injuries?
Sports taping is a common technique used to provide support and stability to joints and muscles during physical activity. Shoulder injuries are a common concern for contact sport athletes. And taping is often used as a part of the treatment and management process. While there is some evidence to support the use of sports taping for shoulder injuries, the research is mixed.
Reduced pain and improved function?
One study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy looked at the effect of taping on pain in rotator cuff injuries. They found that taping can be effective in reducing shoulder pain and improving shoulder function. Another study in the Journal of Athletic Training found that taping can improve shoulder stability and reduce the risk of shoulder dislocation in athletes with shoulder instability.
However, other studies have shown mixed results. A systematic review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that there is limited evidence to support the use of taping for shoulder injuries. Another study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that taping did not significantly improve shoulder function or reduce pain in patients with rotator cuff tears.
Overall, while there is some evidence to suggest that sports taping can be effective in managing shoulder injuries, the research is not definitive. We suggest to athletes to work with what makes them comfortable, and discuss options with their physio.
Some athletes get a great sense of stability from taping. Others find it inhibits normal movement and function. For this reason, the approach must be individualised.
Does sports taping shoulder joints for rugby decrease dislocation risk?
Yes, there is scientific evidence to suggest that sports taping can reduce the risk of shoulder dislocation in contact sports. Several studies have investigated the effectiveness of taping for preventing shoulder dislocation in athletes
One study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that taping significantly reduced the incidence of shoulder dislocation in rugby players. The study found that the use of taping was associated with a 63% reduction in the risk of shoulder dislocation compared to no taping.
Another study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that taping reduced the risk of shoulder dislocation in football players. They found players with shoulders taped had a significantly lower dislocation rate compared to un-taped players.
A third study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that taping was effective in reducing the risk of shoulder dislocation in wrestlers. As with above studies, the dislocation rate here was much lower in taped vs untapped shoulders
These studies suggest that sports taping can be effective at reducing risk of dislocation in contact sports. However, it is important to note that taping should be used in conjunction with other injury prevention strategies
. As mentioned earlier, strength, range and function need to be priorities.
When to tape and when to brace?
A large factor to consider is the timing of the tape application. Not all athletes have access to physio for taping immediately before taking to the field. Applying tape too early can mean the tape loosens or stretches before game time. Or applying it improperly can cause irritation. In situations where quality and timely application isn’t available, bracing can be effective.
Finding a comfortable and easy to apply brace can be helpful. It allows for adjustments and re-application. And importantly it doesn’t need a physio or trainer to apply.
Does shoulder sports taping have benefits for AC joint injuries?
Yes, sports taping can have benefits for AC joint injuries
. Several studies have investigated the effectiveness of taping for AC joint injuries.
One study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport looked at the effect of ACJ taping in athletes. They found that pain improved and range increased in athletes with taping compared with no taping.
Another study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy found that ACJ taping improved shoulder function and reduced pain. The study found that taping significantly improved strength and stability, and reduced pain during movement.
Overall, these studies suggest that sports taping can be an effective strategy for managing ACJ injuries. Taping can help to reduce pain, improve shoulder function, and promote healing of the injured joint. However, it is important for athletes to work with a physio to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for their needs. Again, taping will often provide the final support to facilitate return to play. It will often follow significant movement and strength training.
Final thoughts on sports taping shoulders
A final word on sports taping shoulders – in particular shoulder taping for rugby. At Movement Centre, we find it a hugely useful adjunct to treatment. For shoulder instability and ACJ injuries taping can be an incredible way to build an athlete’s confidence for a return to the field. It does not make up for lack of physical preparation. But it can significantly improve an athlete’s confidence. And more importantly it can reduce risk of re-injury.
At Movement Centre we are open Saturdays so we can tape up our patients for their sport. Book online or call us if you need to discuss shoulder taping ahead of the winter sports season.