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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Apr;112(4):1577-85. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-2124-8. Epub 2011 Aug 21.

Ankle proprioception is not targeted by exercises on an unstable surface.

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Research Group Lifestyle and Health, University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Bolognalaan 101, 3584 CJ Utrecht, The Netherlands. henri.kiers@hu


Laboratory study using a repeated measures design. The aim of this study was to determine if ankle proprioception is targeted in exercises on unstable surfaces. Lateral ankle sprain (LAS) has recurrence rates over 70%, which are believed to be due to a reduced accuracy of proprioceptive signals from the ankle. Proprioceptive exercises in rehabilitation of LAS mostly consist of balancing activities on an unstable surface. The methods include 100 healthy adults stood barefoot on a solid surface and a foam pad over a force plate, with occluded vision. Mechanical vibration was used to stimulate proprioceptive output of muscle spindles of triceps surae and lumbar paraspinal musculature. Each trial lasted for 60 s; vibration was applied from the 15th till the 30th second. Changes in mean velocity and mean position of the center of pressure (CoP) as a result of muscle vibration were calculated. Results show that on foam, the effect of triceps surae vibration on mean CoP velocity was significantly smaller than on a solid surface, while for paraspinal musculature vibration the effect was bigger on foam than on solid surface. Similar effects were seen for mean CoP displacement as outcome. Exercises on unstable surfaces appear not to target peripheral ankle proprioception. Exercises on an unstable surface may challenge the capacity of the central nervous system to shift the weighting of sources of proprioceptive signals on balance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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