During my time at school, I was taught that McConnell taping was used for patella femoral pain syndrome (PFPS). I was taught that it worked by changing the positioning of the patella during knee flexion and extension by drawing the patella more medially within the patella-femoral groove, making up for a weak VMO. However, after treating many patients without the aid of patellar taping, I began to become skeptical (in my opinion there were too many factors that played into the taping procedure which could make it “work” or “not work”). I recently came across this article which both confirmed my thoughts, but also confirmed that there may actually be benefits to patellar taping.
Click the following link to access the free article.
Christou, Evangelos A. Patellar taping increases vastus medialis oblique activity in the presence of patellafemoral pain. J of Electromyography and Kinesiology 14 (2004) 495-504.
Discussion – Obviously there are a few limitations to this study, just like most studies, the first of which being the subjects are only women; therefore if you adhere to the rules of research strictly, you cannot apply the outcomes of this study to men (due to different Q angles, quad to hamstring strength ratios, etc). There are also only 30 subjects. Finally, to assess EMG activity, a surface EMG unit was used instead of an intramuscular unit.
I am a fan of this study for the most part. I believe that the study draws some great conclusions. Mainly, that patellar taping (McConnell Taping) has more of a placebo effect than anything. Even when pulling the patella laterally, patients with PFPS have decreased pain and increased VMO activation within the study parameters. This completely contradicts the theory that patellar taping changes the position of the patella during flexion and extension of the knee. Like I said earlier, this study does support the use of taping, because subjects with PFPS who received medially oriented taping have the most significant pain decreases and EMG activity increases within the study. However, similar results in the placebo group and lateral glide group lead researchers (and myself) to believe that taping actually works because of neurological pain modulation (like Transcutaneus Electro Nerve Stimulation -TENS-)and/or that the tape provides medial support to structures like the retinaculum or medial patella femoral ligaments.
If you use patellar taping (McConnell Taping) I suggest you read this article, or at least read from the results section onward. Like I said, this article confirms my thoughts that taping may not work the way it should, BUT it does confirm that taping can be used to increase VMO activation AND decrease pain; therefore, I must see the use of taping as beneficial (even with such a small sample size).
Please leave your comments with personal experiences with taping, or even with the use of a tracking brace.