Functional balance training, with or without exercise sandals, for subjects with stable or unstable ankles

J Athl Train. 2006 Oct-Dec;41(4):393-8.


Context: Improving postural stability through balance training may prevent ankle sprains. Exercise Sandals may increase the demands placed on ankle muscles during rehabilitation, which could improve postural stability.

Objective: To examine the effects of functional balance training, with and without the use of Exercise Sandals, on postural stability in subjects with stable or unstable ankles.

Design: Prospective, nonrandomized clinical trial.

Setting: Sports medicine research laboratory.

Patients or other participants: Sixteen subjects with functional ankle instability and 16 subjects with no history of ankle sprains.

Intervention(s): Subjects were assigned to an Exercise Sandal functional balance training group or a shoe functional balance training group. Subjects trained 3 times per week for 8 weeks and then performed a single-limb stance posttest.

Main outcome measure(s): Subjects were required to remain as motionless as possible during a single-limb stance pretest. Anterior-posterior and medial-lateral center-of-pressure excursions were measured.

Results: Exercise Sandal balance training improved anterior-posterior postural stability in both ankle groups ( P < .05). Both training interventions improved medial-lateral postural stability in stable and unstable ankles ( P < .05).

Conclusions: Postural stability improved after subjects performed functional balance training programs, both with and without Exercise Sandals. Training with Exercise Sandals might not be any more effective in improving postural stability than performing functional balance training without Exercise Sandals. However, Exercise Sandals did not impair postural stability and, consequently, might serve as an alternative therapy to improve postural stability.