The purpose of this review was to explore the association between ankle proprioception and balance control in a sporting context, and their roles in sport performance and sport injury.
In many sports, superior balance ability is necessary to achieve the highest competitive level and avoid lower limb injuries.
Ankle proprioception may be one of the more important components contributing to balance control in sport, because during most sports activities, the ankle-foot complex is the only part of the body contacting the ground.
Ankle proprioception can be altered by general and sport-specific training, sport-related injuries and sport-induced fatigue – all of which may subsequently lead to altered balance ability.
Although visual and vestibular functions play important roles in balance control in sport, ankle proprioception, within the proprioceptive system, appears to be the most critical for balance control contributing to sport performance.
Ankle proprioception is closely related to balance control in sport injuries, and balance ability may be significantly affected by impaired ankle proprioception after injuries.
The most appropriate measurement technologies are those that are relevant to normal function and that encompass ecologically valid components related to balance function; this is also important for determination of the optimum ankle proprioceptive intervention to improve balance control in sport.
Active movement extent discrimination assessment (AMEDA) fulfills ecological validity and captures data in such a way as to address the signal-noise nature of central processing of proprioceptive information relevant to balance function.
Proprioceptive training is likely to be most beneficial for improving ankle proprioception per se when conducted on each leg and by optimising ankle proprioceptive information re-weighting for balance control in sport.
Ankle proprioceptive intervention concepts driven by a central processing theory are further proposed by the authors and discussed for the improvement of balance control in sport.
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