Balance deficits in recreational athletes with chronic ankle instability

J Athl Train. 2007 Jul-Sep;42(3):367-73.


Context: Deficits in static and dynamic stability during single-leg stance have been noted in individuals with chronic ankle instability (CAI), but few investigators have tested subjects for subtle deficits in dynamic balance. Subtle deficits in dynamic balance during a double-leg stance may reveal changes in the sensorimotor system because of CAI.

Objective: To use a standardized tibial nerve stimulation as a perturbation to test for dynamic balance deficits between a group of recreational athletes with CAI and a group of recreational athletes with stable ankles.

Design: Case-control study.

Setting: Laboratory.

Patients or other participants: Twenty recreational athletes with CAI and 20 recreational athletes with stable ankles.

Intervention(s): Balance deficits were assessed for each subject during static and dynamic trials.

Main outcome measure(s): Time to stabilization and center-of-pressure excursion path length, velocity, and area from ground reaction forces during double-leg stance were collected through a forceplate. We used an accelerometer to measure tibial acceleration. Data were collected during static stance and during a bilateral perturbation using maximal motor neuron recruitment elicited by electric stimulation of the tibial nerve.

Results: Only time to stabilization in the anterior-posterior direction was significantly different between groups ( P = .04), with the CAI group taking longer to return to a stable range of ground reaction forces. We found no other differences in stability measures between the groups.

Conclusions: Dynamic balance in double-leg stance as measured by time to stabilization appears to be affected in individuals with CAI. Deficits in the response to external perturbation may indicate subtle central sensorimotor changes.

Keywords: ankle sprains; postural control; proprioception; stability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle Injuries / complications*
  • Ankle Injuries / physiopathology
  • Athletic Injuries / complications*
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chronic Disease
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / complications*
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Postural Balance*
  • Proprioception
  • Sensation Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sensation Disorders / etiology*
  • Sensation Disorders / physiopathology
  • Tibial Nerve