Patellofemoral taping is a technique used in the management of patellofemoral pain that has been shown to alter the pattern of muscle activation onset in symptomatic subjects. It is unknown, however, if this taping technique directly influences the patterns of muscle activity that controls patella position or if its benefits are more related to the effect of pain reduction. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of a taping technique on the muscle activation onset of selected quadriceps muscles where pain was not a confounding factor. Thirteen asymptomatic subjects completed a stair ascent and descent task with the right patella untaped and taped for a medial patella glide. Muscle activation onset was determined by computer algorithm from surface EMG of vastus lateralis (VL) and vastus medialis obliquus (VMO). Taping significantly delayed the muscle activation onset of VMO and VL during stair ascent. There was no significant change for stair descent. This effect may be an attempt by the motor control system to counter the mechanical effect of patella perturbation or may be due to cutaneous stimulation affecting threshold or recruitment of motor units.
D. Parsons is a private physiotherapy practitioner, P.O. Box 738, Dickson, ACT, Australia, 2602. W. Gilleard is with the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, Lidcombe, NSW, Australia, 1825.