Proprioception is our sense and awareness of the position of our body parts and is closely linked to balance. Having good proprioception helps to reduce the risk of injury. Located within the muscles, tendons, ligaments and other soft tissues of the body, are tiny sensors which relay information about joint position, pressure and muscle stretch to the brain. These proprioceptors are specialised sensory receptors on nerve endings within these structures. Once the proprioceptors have sent information to the brain, the brain then reacts, making changes to the body’s position, as required. When you incur an ankle sprain, you have over-stretched the tiny tendon and muscle fibers that also then cause damage to the sensory receptors, leading to a delay in the message being sent to the brain. It has been found that doing ankle proprioceptive exercises actually reduces the risk of incurring another ankle sprain. This is even more important for those who have had multiple ankle sprains.
How to do proprioceptive exercises:
- Firstly ensure you start with the basic exercises and gradually progress to the advanced. This will ensure you are not putting yourself at risk of an injury by over-estimating your capabilities.
- Secondly, try and do the exercises daily, and repeat 5-10 repititions at minimum.
- Thirdly, If you have asymmetrical strength or balance between left and right ankle, focus on the weaker ankle and when it is equivalent the opposite side, you can begin training both sides equally.
- You can begin doing the exercises by holding onto a rail initially to avoid losing balance, and once you are confident, you can stand alone.
1.Single leg stance
a). Stand on one leg, with eyes open for 30seconds. Advance to doing the exercise with eyes closed.
- Single leg with movement
a). Stand on one leg and bend it slightly, and straighten your other knee in front of you so that is off the floor. With the straight knee, reach forward and then return to original position. Repeat 10 times.
- Wobble board
a). Begin with standing on the wobble board with both feet and try to keep the plate balanced for 20seconds. Advance to doing with exercise with your eyes closed.
b). Once you achieve the above, you can repeat it but with one foot only on the centre of the plate.
- Standing on one foot and raising your heel
a). Stand on one foot and go up and down on that foot. Do it slowly so that your heel lightly touches the ground on your lowest point. Repeat 10 times.