Six weeks of balance training improves sensorimotor function in individuals with chronic ankle instability

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2011 Feb;41(2):81-9. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2011.3365. Epub 2010 Nov 10.


Study design: Prospective cohort study.

Objective: To assess the effect of 6 weeks of balance training on sensorimotor measures previously found to be deficient in participants with chronic ankle instability (CAI).

Background: CAI is the tendency toward repeated ankle sprains and recurring symptoms, occurring in 40% to 70% of individuals who have previously sustained a lateral ankle sprain. Recent studies have found deficits in sensorimotor measures in individuals with CAI. As balance training is a common component of ankle rehabilitation, understanding its effect on the sensorimotorsystem in individuals with CAI may enable us to optimize protocols to better utilize this rehabilitation method.

Methods: Twelve participants with CAI and 9 healthy volunteers participated. Independent variables were group (CAI, control) and time (pretraining, posttraining). Participants with CAI who completed a 6-week balance training program and healthy controls who did not get any training were pretested and posttested at the beginning and at the end of 6 weeks.

Results: The individuals in the CAI group who performed balance training demonstrated better performance than control participants on baseline adjusted posttraining measures of dynamic balance in the anterior medial (P = .021), medial (P = .048), and posterior medial directions (P = .030); motoneuron pool excitability Hmax/Mmax ratio (P = .044) and single-limb presynaptic inhibition (P = .012); and joint position sense inversion variable error (P = .017). It may be of note that no systematic differences were detected for static balance or plantar flexion joint position sense tasks.

Conclusions: After 6 weeks of balance training, individuals with CAI demonstrated enhanced dynamic balance, inversion joint position sense, and changes in motoneuron pool excitability compared to healthy controls who did not train.

Level of evidence: Therapy, level 2b.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle Joint / physiopathology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • H-Reflex / physiology
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology
  • Joint Instability / therapy*
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Proprioception / physiology*