Ankle sprain is one of the most common sporting injuries. It is often thought that when an ankle has been sprained once it will always be "weak" and is more likely to be sprained repeatedly eventually becoming a chronic ankle sprain, giving long term problems. Appropriate ankle sprain rehab can prevent this from being the case.
Two Main Reasons why Someone Repeatedly Sprains their Ankle:
1. Decreased Proprioception. - Proprioception is a term to describe joint position sense. Every ligament contains something called mechanoreceptors. The role of these is to tell the brain what position the joint is in. When the ankle starts to go over the ligaments send a message to the brain, the brain then send a message to contract the opposing muscles and this pulls the ankle back into a better position. Clearly this needs to all happen in a fraction of a second. There is evidence that shows this proprioception loop doesn't happen as quickly after an ankle sprain, and never recovers unless specific ankle sprain rehab is undertaken.
Visual feedback also has a large role to play in telling the brain what position the body and joints are in, when visual feedback is reduced, for instance when running in the dark, or if not noticing a tussock or hole, then the joint position feedback from the relevant ligaments has to work even more efficiently to prevent injury.
Most top sports people and teams use proprioception exercises as a preventative training strategy. There are several studies on basketball teams in particular which show that incorporating proprioception training into the training regime decreases the incidence of ankle sprain and anterior cruciate injury.
2. Weakness. Even if the proprioception mechanism is in tact and working efficiently the joint will still be at risk of injury if the relevant muscles are too weak to contract quickly to pull the joint back into position. Much of the ankle sprain rehab training that works to improve proprioception also strengthens the critical muscles - mainly muscle groups known as the anterior tibials and the peronei.
Wobble Board Benefits - How to Improve Proprioception and Prevent Recurrent Ankle Sprain
Any balance work improves proprioception. Balance work is progressed by decreasing visual feedback (ie doing the exercises with the eyes closed), increasing the instability of the surface that the exercises are done on, for instance using a wobble board, or increasing the dynamic nature of the exercise, for instance jumping landing and holding the balance, again first with the eyes open then eyes closed.
A simple progression of proprioceptive exercises is shown on the fact sheet.
There are several sites which can give you wobble board benefits
Disclaimer: The information on this page is written to help you understand recurrent ankle sprain. There are many possible causes for ankle pain and should you have any concerns you should always seek advice from a qualified health professional such as a Chartered Physiotherapist or your GP.