Everyone who has ever experienced an ankle sprain knows the exercises done on unstable surfaces, such as wobble boards. This is aiming to improve proprioception.
Proprioception is defined according to Physiopedia as:
Proprioception is the sense of the relative position of body segments in relation to other body segments. Unlike the six exteroceptive senses (sight, taste, smell, touch, hearing and Balance) by which we perceive the outside world, and interoceptive senses, by which we perceive the pain and the stretching of internal organs, proprioception is a third distinct sensory modality that provides feedback solely on the status of the body internally. It is the sense that indicates whether the body is moving with the appropriate effort and where the various segments of the body are located in relation to each other.
However, a study done by Kiers et al. (2011) concluded that these exercises do not target ankle proprioception as thought by most people. It was even found that on foam, the effect of triceps surae vibration on mean center of pressure (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. They rather challenge the capacity of the central nervous system to shift the weighting of sources of proprioceptive signals on balance. The study does however not mention what exercises can be done instead to target ankle proprioception. Hence, further research needs to be done in this field.
Therefore, in the daily practice, the therapist should take in mind that improvement may result from improvement of paraspinal musculature and the capacity of the central nervous system rather than the ankle proprioception. This does not mean that proprioception exercises do not benefit ankle sprains but that the benefit might have a different cause for balance improvements.
In clinical practice patients with balance impairments are often seen. This can have several causes, e.g. after trauma, vestibular or neurological. However there is no clear definition of human balance. Postural control is defined as the act of maintaining, achieving or restoring a state of balance during any posture or activity. Postural control strategies may be either predictive or reactive, and may involve either a fixed-support or a change-in-support response. Clinical tests of balance assess different components of balance ability (Pollock et al. 2000).
Lee et al. (2015) have shown that neck taping can have an influence on balance similar to ankle tapes.
Maintaining balance and posture is influenced not only by the muscles around the ankle, but also by input from the visual senses, and vestibular system, and sensory information from the somatic senses in the neck 23. Burl et al. 24 reported that balance improves when stability was provided to the neck in a study that investigated the effect of taping the cervical spine on standing balance. Yoo 25 also reported that taping the neck positively affected posture, a result which is in agreement with our present study’s findings. Cervical spiral taping improved the stability and balance of the head and neck muscles, which improved proprioception and balance. The balance indices improved after taping interventions for the two areas. Taping fixed the joints and stimulated the proprioceptiors, eliciting the fusimotor reflex, which increased contractibility of the surrounding muscles, which improved postural balance.
Reade more here
These results can be taken into consideration as an addition to balance exercises. However, the sample size of this trial consisted only of 20 subjects. Furthermore, they were healthy university students, therefore this might not fit the clinical patient population and the results of this trial might not be generalizable.
Objectives: To explore the outcomes of an Xbox Kinect intervention on balance ability, enjoyment and compliance for previously injured young competitive male athletes.
Design: Experimental pre-/post-test design with random assignment.
Participants: Sixty-three previously injured young competitive male athletes, aged 16 1 years.
Interventions: Participants were divided into three groups: one group received Xbox Kinect (XbK) training, one group received Traditional physiotherapy (TP) training, and one group did not receive any balance training (Control). Intervention involved a 24 min session, twice weekly for 10 weeks.
Main outcome measures: Overall stability index (OSI) and limits of stability (LOS) scores using the Biodex Stability System. Enjoyment using the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale. Self-reported compliance.
Results: Both experimental groups demonstrated an improvement in OSI and LOS mean scores for the right and the left limb after the intervention. In addition, the results revealed important differences between the experimental groups and the control group on balance test indices. Group enjoyment rating was greater for XbK compared with TP, while the compliance rating was not. Conclusions: These findings suggest that the use of XbK intervention is a valuable, feasible and pleasant approach in order to improve balance ability of previously injured young competitive male athletes (Vernadakis et al. 2013).
Read more here - The effect of Xbox Kinect intervention on balance ability for previously injured young competitive male athletes: A preliminary studyl
Body composition, cardio-respiratory fitness, muscular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility are all important aspects to work on to achieve all round fitness. However these factors are not enough to make a good athlete. With the basic health parameters as a foundation, athletes work towards developing their skill-related parameters, namely agility, coordination, speed, power, balance and reaction time. In this article we’ll go through each of them and give you tips on how you can improve your sports performance by working on each one.
Agility is the ability to rapidly change direction. Agility is often tested in Singapore via the shuttle run since it requires multiple changes in direction while accelerating at high speeds.
Coordination is the ability to integrate your senses and body parts to perform movements effectively. Poor coordination results in awkward movement which affects one’s ability to execute techniques in sports.
Speed is the ability to move your body quickly.
Power is the ability to generate explosive force and is a product of strength and speed. Power is required in many sporting movements.
Balance is the ability to maintain your center of gravity while you are moving or stationary.
6. Reaction Time
Reaction time is the ability to quickly respond to a stimulus.
Extract from full article http://sg.news.yahoo.com/6-keys-improving-sports-performance-135329695.html