In addition to the development of lower extremity muscle and connective tissue strength, an effective injury prevention strategy is the development of proprioception.
Proprioception can be defined as the ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium; the normal awareness of one’s posture, movement, balance, and location based on the sensations received by the proprioceptors (sensory receptors that receive stimuli from within the body, especially one that responds to position and movement).
“Improvements in proprioceptive control (balance) in a single stance may be a key factor for an effective reduction in ankle sprains, knee sprains, and low back pain,” according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. (Riva, D, et.al.)
At Athletic Performance Training Center, virtually all of our athletes finish their workouts with an ankle stability exercise, performed on an Airex balance pad. The exercise is performed in socks, to eliminate the stabilizing effect of the soles of their shoes.
We start with 30 seconds on each foot, with a still, “quiet” upper body (athletes can’t use arms and upper torso to assist in balance). Once our athletes become proficient, we add increments of 15 seconds, eventually aiming for 2-3 minutes on each foot, twice a week.
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