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Balance training protects form ankle sprains

High school athletes can reduce their risk of ankle sprains by spending five to ten minutes of practice time doing simple balance exercises.

Balance training protects form ankle sprains

High school athletes can markedly reduce their risk of ankle sprains, especially those with a history of ankle sprains, by spending five to ten minutes of practice time doing simple balance exercises. It has been recognized for a number of years that balance training helps people post-injury, whether it is a knee injury or ankle injury. Balance training has also been shown to reduce the incidence of injuries in adult soccer players. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin Health Sports Medicine Center, USA, did a study wherein a total of 765 male and female high school soccer and basketball players were randomly assigned to an intervention group that participated in balance training or to a control group that performed only standard conditioning exercises. Early in the season, the intervention group did balance exercises five days per week. They started with basic balance training like standing on one leg with their eyes shut and standing on one leg while trying to dribble a basketball or kick a soccer ball. They then progressed to standing on a balance or wobble board. Once the regular soccer or basketball season started, athletes performed these simple balance exercises three times per week. The balance exercises took about 7 to 10 minutes out of practice time. Sixty-two of the 765 athletes sustained an acute ankle sprain during their sports season. According to the researchers, the rate of ankle sprains was significantly lower in the balance trainers (6 percent versus 10 percent in the control group). The results of this study document that a simple, inexpensive, balance training program performed during a high school sport season will reduce the rate of ankle sprains by 38 percent in male and female high school soccer and basketball players. Consistent with other studies, the current study found that athletes who sustained an ankle sprain within the previous 12 months had more than double the risk of sustaining another sprain. The balance-training program reduced the risk of re-injury in these athletes by nearly half. The balance-training program also appeared to reduce the incidence of ankle sprains in athletes without a history of ankle sprains, although the difference was not statistically significance. The rate of ankle sprains for athletes without a history of ankle sprains was 4 percent in the balance-training group and 8 percent in the control group.
The American Journal of Sports Medicine,
July 2006
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