Through the years, researchers have uncovered the many risk factors for non-contact ankle sprains in football players, such as a high BMI and a history of ankle injuries. There have also been studies that have looked at the association of ankle injuries with poor single-limb balance and performance. Football is a dynamic, explosive sport, and without the proper stability, it’s easy to see how the ankle can fall victim to the circumstances. Would a balance-training program help football players gain the solidity and strength they need to reduce the incidences of non-contact ankle sprains?
Balance training to reduce ankle sprains in football players
Way back in 2007, McHugh and colleagues set out to find some answers. Published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, their study was aimed to determine if TheraBand “stability pad balance training reduces the incidence of noncontact inversion ankle sprains in football players with increased risk” (McHugh et al. 2007).
To start, the researchers selected two high school varsity football teams to analyze for three consecutive years. Documentation of each player was taken at the beginning of each season noting:
- Body mass
- History of previous ankle sprains
- Current ankle brace/tape use
Based on the results of the body mass and ankle sprain history categories, players were categorized as minimal risk, low risk, moderate risk, and high risk. Any player who was categorized as low, moderate or high risk was assigned to a balance training intervention using a blue TheraBand Stability Trainer for balance training.
The one exercise to reduce ankle sprains? Single-leg balance for five minutes on each leg.
They balanced five days per week in preseason and twice per week during the season. Ankle injury incidence during the training season was compared to injury rates during the previous seasons.
The balance training intervention yielded amazing results. “Injury incidence for players with increased risk was 2.2 injuries per 1000 exposures before the intervention and 0.5 after the intervention” (McHugh et al. 2007). In case you didn’t do the math, that’s a 77% reduction after training with the TheraBand Stability Trainer.
Need inspiration for a balance exercise program for ankle strength? We’ve got 36 exercises in the TheraBand Academy to help you reach your goals. Implement these exericses today to increase performance and keep your players in the game!
McHugh MP et al 2007. The effectiveness of a balance training intervention in reducing the incidence of noncontact ankle sprains in high school football players Am J Sports Med 35(8):1289-94