Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in sports and recreational activities. Injuries to an ankle account for 10 – 30% of all athletic injuries and ankle sprains themselves comprise of 70% or more of these ankle injuries (Kobayashi, Kazuyoshi & Gamada 2014). Ankle sprains most commonly occur during sport but can also occur through slips, trips and falls.
The highest risk factor for an ankle sprain is a previous ankle injury. The ankle sprain recurrence rate is high, therefore symptoms can often persist. After 6.5 years of follow-up among athletes with ankle sprain, 5% had to change and 4% had to stop their sport activities due to residual symptoms. Similarly, among non athletes with ankle sprain, 6% were unable to continue their previous occupation and 15% required external support to continue (Kobayashi, Kazuyoshi & Gamada 2014).
Re-spraining of ankle joints can lead to Chronic Ankle Instability (CAI). CAI is based on a history of multiple sprains and repeated episodes of an unstable feeling or giving way (Kobayashi, Kazuyoshi & Gamada 2014). Whilst strengthening exercises are important in order to build functional strength back into the ankle there is something else that is just as important that we need to work on; proprioception.
Proprioception is the perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body. When we injure the soft tissue, during an ankle sprain for example, the receptors that feed the brain proprioceptive information are damaged. When these receptors are damaged we have that feeling of instability. Due to the fact that these receptors are now turned off there is a higher chance of re-injury. Therefore we need to turn these receptors back on and work on improving our proprioception.
Single leg stands are the best exercise for proprioception:
Once you have mastered this simple exercise here is another one to keep you progressing.https://www.facebook.com/boosthealthco/videos/1596591710482143/
When we are rehabilitating an ankle sprain single leg stands are one of the most important aspects of rehab and by working on this damaged proprioception we are giving ourselves the best chance of preventing re-injury.