Context: Ankle sprains are the most common orthopaedic pathologic condition, and more concerning is the high percentage of persons who develop chronic ankle instability (CAI). Researchers have reported that patients with CAI are restricted occupationally, have more functional limitations, and have a poorer health-related quality of life. We do not know if these limitations decrease physical activity levels.
Objective: To assess total weekly steps taken between persons with CAI and persons with healthy ankles.
Design: Case-control study.
Setting: University research laboratory.
Patients or other participants: A total of 20 participants with unilateral CAI (9 men, 11 women; age = 21.2 ± 1.9 years, height = 174.3 ± 6.9 cm, mass = 71.9 ± 11.7 kg) and 20 healthy participants (9 men, 11 women; age = 20.4 ± 2.1 years, height = 172.1 ± 5.5 cm, mass = 73.1 ± 13.4 kg) volunteered.
Main outcome measure(s): We provided all participants with a pedometer and instructed them to wear it every day for 7 days and to complete a daily step log. They also completed the Foot and Ankle Ability Measure (FAAM), the FAAM Sport version, and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. A 2-way analysis of variance (group × sex) was used to determine if differences existed in the total number of weekly steps, ankle laxity, and answers on the International Physical Activity Questionnaire between groups and between sexes.
Results: We found no group × sex interaction for step count (F range = 0.439-2.108, P = .08). A main effect for group was observed (F(1,38) = 10.45, P = .04). The CAI group took fewer steps than the healthy group (P = .04). The average daily step count was 6694.47 ± 1603.35 for the CAI group and 8831.01 ± 1290.01 for the healthy group. The CAI group also scored lower on the FAAM (P = .01) and the FAAM Sport version (P = .01).
Conclusions: The decreased step count that the participants with CAI demonstrated is concerning. This decreased physical activity may be secondary to the functional limitations reported. If this decrease in physical activity level continues for an extended period, CAI may potentially be a substantial health risk if not treated appropriately.
Keywords: ankle sprain; exercise; laxity.