Proprioceptive Training for the Prevention of Ankle Sprains: An Evidence-Based Review

J Athl Train. 2017 Nov;52(11):1065-1067. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-52.11.16. Epub 2017 Nov 15.


Reference: Schiftan GS, Ross LA, Hahne AJ. The effectiveness of proprioceptive training in preventing ankle sprains in sporting populations: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Sci Med Sport. 2015;18(3):238-244.

Clinical question: Does the use of proprioceptive training as a sole intervention decrease the incidence of initial or recurrent ankle sprains in the athletic population?

Data sources: The authors completed a comprehensive literature search of MEDLINE, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, and Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) from inception to October 2013. The reference lists of all identified articles were manually screened to obtain additional studies. The following key words were used. Phase 1 population terms were sport*, athlet*, and a combination of the two. Phase 2 intervention terms were propriocept*, balance, neuromusc* adj5 train*, and combinations thereof. Phase 3 condition terms were ankle adj5 sprain*, sprain* adj5 ankle, and combinations thereof.

Study selection: Studies were included according to the following criteria: (1) the design was a moderate- to high-level randomized controlled trial (>4/10 on the PEDro scale), (2) the participants were physically active (regardless of previous ankle injury), (3) the intervention group received proprioceptive training only, compared with a control group that received no proprioceptive training, and (4) the rate of ankle sprains was reported as a main outcome. Search results were limited to the English language. No restrictions were placed on publication dates.

Data extraction: Two authors independently reviewed the studies for eligibility. The quality of the pertinent articles was assessed using the PEDro scale, and data were extracted to calculate the relative risk. Data extracted were number of participants, intervention, frequency, duration, follow-up period, and injury rate.

Main results: Of the initial 345 studies screened, 7 were included in this review for a total of 3726 participants. Three analyses were conducted for proprioceptive training used (1) to prevent ankle sprains regardless of history (n = 3654), (2) to prevent recurrent ankle sprains (n = 1542), or (3) as the primary preventive measure for those without a history of ankle sprain (n = 946). Regardless of a history of ankle sprain, participants had a reduction in ankle-sprain rates (relative risk [RR] = 0.65, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.55, 0.77; numbers needed to treat [NNT] = 17, 95% CI = 11, 33). For individuals with a history of ankle sprains, proprioceptive training demonstrated a reduction in repeat ankle sprains (RR = 0.64, 95% CI = 0.51, 0.81; NNT = 13, 95% CI = 7, 100). Proprioceptive training as a primary preventive measure demonstrated significant results (RR = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.34, 0.97; NNT = 33, 95% CI = 16, 1000).

Conclusions: Proprioceptive training programs were effective in reducing the incidence rates of ankle sprains in the athletic population, including those with and those without a history of ankle sprains.

Keywords: balance; coordination; reinjury.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ankle Injuries / physiopathology
  • Ankle Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Ankle Joint / innervation*
  • Ankle Joint / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Sports*
  • Sprains and Strains / physiopathology
  • Sprains and Strains / prevention & control*