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An electromyographical study to investigate the effects of patellar taping on the vastus medialis/vastus lateralis ratio in asymptomatic participants

Ryan, C.G. and Rowe, P.J. (2006) An electromyographical study to investigate the effects of patellar taping on the vastus medialis/vastus lateralis ratio in asymptomatic participants. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 22 (6). pp. 309-315. ISSN 0959-3985

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Abstract

It is commonly theorised that patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is caused by maltracking due to vastus medialis (VM) weakness relative to the vastus lateralis (VL). Despite this being a controversial theory, patellar taping is a commonly used technique that purports to correct this muscle imbalance by increasing the VM/VL ratio. The effects of different forms of taping on vasti muscle activity are still not known. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of three different types of patellar taping on the VM/VL ratio in asymptomatic university students. Each participant performed a set of four single-legged squats under four separate taping conditions: A) medial, B) lateral, C) neutral, and D) no-tape. The condition sequence was randomised. The main outcome measure was the normalised VM/VL ratio, assessed by using surface electromyography. Secondary outcome measures were the normalised EMG activity of the VM and the VL. A convenience sample of 24 (17 females) students (22 +/- 10 years, M +/- SD) completed this study. The lateral taping condition produced small but significantly greater VM/VL ratios than the medial (p = 0.007) and neutral (p = 0.007) but not the no-tape (p = 0.123) condition. There were no significant differences between the medial, neutral, and no-tape conditions. These results question whether patellar taping can impart a clinically significant effect on the VM/VL ratio. The results of this study cannot be directly extrapolated to a patient population, and further research in the PFPS population is required before clinical recommendations can be made.