The relationship between ankle joint physiological characteristics and balance control during unilateral stance

Gait Posture. 2014 Feb;39(2):718-22. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2013.10.004. Epub 2013 Oct 10.


Background: The role that the ankle's physiological characteristics play in maintaining balance during quiet stance has been well documented. However, the role of the ankle in maintaining balance during more challenging conditions is questionable. As such, the objectives of this study were to identify any significant relationships between the physiological characteristics of the ankle joint and the ability to maintain more challenging unilateral stance.

Participants: 21 healthy, adult athletes (age = 24.67 ± 5.42 years; height = 175.34 ± 7.48 cms; weight = 79.09 ± 14.07 kg).

Procedures: Passive resistance and joint position sense in the sagittal plane of the ankle, and active dorsiflexion range of motion of each subject was assessed, in addition to centre of pressure parameters during 20 s unilateral stance.

Results: Pearson's product moment correlation coefficient found significant positive correlations between D(peaktorque) and sway area (r = .554); A(x) range (r = .449); and A(y) range (r = .471). Significant negative correlations were found between P(peaktorque) angle and sway area (r = -.538, p = .012), A(x) range (r = -.590, p = .005) and A(y) range (r = -.439, p=.046).

Discussion: The results highlighted limited relationships between unilateral stance balance control and the ankle characteristics commonly associated with quiet stance balance control and has, thus, further questioned the role that the ankle plays during more challenging stance conditions. The majority of balance training protocols in the athletic community focuses on the distal joints, however, this needs re-addressing in order to maximise performance.

Keywords: Flexibility; Inverted pendulum; Passive resistance; Proprioception; Stability.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle Joint / physiology*
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength Dynamometer
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Pressure
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Young Adult