The effectiveness of proprioceptive training in preventing ankle sprains in sporting populations: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Sci Med Sport. 2015 May;18(3):238-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2014.04.005. Epub 2014 Apr 26.


Objectives: To systematically summarise the evidence on the effectiveness of proprioceptive training in reducing the incidence and recurrence rates of ankle sprains in the sporting population.

Design: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.

Methods: A computer-based literature search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus and PEDro (to October 2013) was conducted. Methodological quality of individual studies was assessed using the PEDro scale. Meta-analysis was performed on eligible studies to produce a pooled estimate of the effectiveness of the intervention.

Results: Seven moderate-to-high quality randomised controlled trials involving 3726 participants were included. Results of the meta-analysis combining all participants, irrespective of ankle injury history status, revealed a significant reduction of ankle sprain incidence when proprioceptive training was performed compared to a range of control interventions (relative risk=0.65, 95% CI 0.55-0.77). Results favouring the intervention remained significant for participants with a history of ankle sprain (relative risk=0.64, 95% CI 0.51-0.81). Results looking exclusively at primary prevention in those without a history were also statistically significant (relative risk=0.57, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.97), although the pooled effect was obtained from two non-significant trials.

Conclusions: Proprioceptive training programmes are effective at reducing the rate of ankle sprains in sporting participants, particularly those with a history of ankle sprain. Current evidence remains inconclusive on the benefits for primary prevention of ankle sprains.

Keywords: Ankle injuries; Athletic injuries; Prevention and control; Proprioception.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ankle Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Feedback, Sensory*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Recurrence
  • Sprains and Strains / prevention & control*