The purpose of the study was to determine the efficacy of a 22- week prescribed sports specific balance training programme on the incidence of lateral ankle sprains in basketball players. A controlled clinical trial was set up. In total 54 subjects of six teams participated and were assigned to either an intervention (IG) or a control group (CG). The IG performed a prescribed balance training programme on top of their normal training routine, using balance semi-globes. The programme consisted of 4 basketball skills each session and its difficulty was progressively thought-out. The intervention lasted 22 weeks and was performed 3 times a week for 5 to 10 minutes. Efficacy of the intervention on the incidence of lateral ankle sprains was determined by calculating Relative Risks (RR, including their 95% Confidence Intervals or CI) and incidence rates expressed per 1000h. RR (95% CI) showed a significantly lower incidence of lateral ankle sprains in the IG compared to the CG for the total sample (RR= 0.30 [95% CI: 0.11-0.84]) and in men (RR= 0.29 [95% CI: 0.09-0.93]). The difference in RR was not confirmed when examining the incidence rates and their 95%CI's, which overlapped. The risk for new or recurrent ankle sprains was slightly lower in the IG (new: RR= 0.76 [95% CI: 0.17-3.40]; re-injury: RR= 0.21 [95% CI: 0.03-1.44]). Based on these pilot results, the use of balance training is recommended as a routine during basketball activities for the prevention of ankle sprains. Key pointsWe could not establish a true preventive effect of the training, most likely due to the low sample size.Although not significant, large differences in incidence rates were found between the intervention and control group and relative risks showed a significant difference.Our results were in line with previous results and therefore proprioceptive balance training should become a part of the training routine.Concerning this study and the literature, proprioceptive balance training should last 5-15 minutes and should be performed 2 to 3 times a week.
Keywords: Injury prevention; ankle injury; proprioceptive training; sports.