The Effects of Rigid Scapular Taping on the Subacromial Space in Athletes With and Without Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy: A Randomized Controlled Study

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: Reduction of the subacromial space (SAS) during arm elevation may contribute to rotator cuff (RC) tendinopathy. The effects of scapular taping on the SAS in athletes with and without RC tendinopathy are unknown. Objective: To investigate the immediate effects of scapular taping on the SAS in athletes with and without RC tendinopathy. Design: Randomized controlled study with repeated measures. Setting: University laboratory. Participants: A total of 43 male volleyball players (17 asymptomatic and 26 with RC tendinopathy, mean age = 22.9 [3.5] y) participated in the study. Intervention: Three scapular taping protocols—no taping (control), taping with tension (therapeutic taping), and taping without tension (sham taping). Main Outcome Measures: Ultrasound measurements of the SAS with the arm at 0° and 60° of shoulder abduction, and the change in the SAS between 0° and 60° of shoulder abduction (SAS0°–60°) were calculated. Results: Athletes with RC tendinopathy demonstrated larger SAS with therapeutic taping at 60° of shoulder abduction (6.9 [1.9] mm vs 5.8 [1.7] mm, mean difference = 1.1 mm, 95% confidence interval, −1.80 to −0.39, P = .002) when compared with the no taping condition. The tendinopathy group also showed less reduction in the SAS with therapeutic taping during SAS0°–60° (2.0 [1.4] mm vs 2.8 [1.4] mm, P = .02) when compared with the no taping condition. When tape was applied to the scapula in asymptomatic athletes, our results showed a relatively small increase in the SAS with therapeutic taping during arm resting at 0° of abduction when compared with the no taping condition (8.7 [0.9] mm vs 8.3 [0.8] mm, mean difference = 0.4 mm, 95% confidence interval, −0.71 to −0.11, P = .01). Conclusions: Athletes with RC tendinopathy demonstrated less reduction of the SAS with rigid scapular taping during early arm abduction. Such observation was not evidenced in asymptomatic athletes.

Leong and Fu are with the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Leong is also with the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, New Territories, Hong Kong.

Leong (annieleonght@cuhk.edu.hk) is corresponding author.
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