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Q: “I recently sprained my ankle, and now I’m afraid of rolling it again. How can I be sure that my ankle gets back to full strength and that I don’t get the same injury again?”

A: Balance exercises are very important for preventing ankle injuries and returning your ankle to full strength and function. The reason for this is a sense called ’proprioception’. Proprioception is your body’s ability to sense it’s position without looking at it. To demonstrate, close your eyes and raise your arm straight out in front so that your shoulder is at 90 degrees to your body. You know that your arm is straight out in front, even though you aren’t looking at it, because of proprioception.

When you sprain your ankle, the proprioceptive nerve pathways are also damaged. As a result, your balance will be compromised and you will be at a high risk of re-injuring your ankle because your brain is unable to sense the exact position of your ankle. Research suggests that up to 70% of people with ankle sprains will re-sprain their ankle within 1 year because they don’t complete their rehabilitation.

Proprioceptive exercises may include: 
  • Walking as normally as possible after injury.
  • Keeping your balance while standing on one leg.
  • Standing on one leg with your eyes closed.
  • Single leg exercises; such as calf raises, hopping, BOSU ball exercises or wobble board exercises.

The inclusion of balance and proprioceptive exercises in your recovery is essential in reducing the chance of re-injuring your ankle.

For more information on proprioception and fixing your injury properly, call Scarborough Physiotherapy on 3880 1649 to make an appointment with one of our expert physiotherapists. Private health insurance rebates are available on all services at Scarborough Physiotherapy; including, physio, orthotics, Pilates, massage, gym memberships and Psychology. To have your question answered in an upcoming issue of My Town, please leave a message on our Facebook wall.

Mitch Hamer, BPhty, APAM

Note: this article appeared in the 6th edition of Redcliffe’s own digital interactive My Town Magazine. Links to this article and other editions can be found at http://www.all-inpublications.com.au/