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Slacklining in Lower Extremity Rehabilitation

by MASS4D® Prescription Orthotics March 11, 2018

Slacklining in Lower Extremity Rehabilitation

Postural stability is imperative to maintain balance or equilibrium throughout the performance of daily tasks and activities. This could serve as one of the many goals of active rehabilitation programmes that are designed to help individuals regain optimal lower limb functionality and mobility.

Slacklining has often been integrated into rehabilitative strategies with the purpose of activating muscles of the core and lower limbs to ensure a stable posture and to reduce the incidences of fall-related injuries, especially in the older population.

The activity of slacklining involves retaining balance while standing or walking on a tightened band. This produces rapid three-dimensional perturbations to the body while allowing for a significant amount of variability in movement on a small, non-fixed base of support.

Balance training typically involves a gradual progression from static balance tasks to more challenging dynamic balance activities to enhance muscular strength in the lower extremity of the individual.

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As suggested by Gabel et al. in their study, the progressive competency of slacklining should involve four stages namely – the beginner or standing stage, the moderate or walking stage, the intermediate or tandem stage, and finally, the advanced or squats stage.

The authors also propose two advanced stages with no specific steps that require imagination, skill and extensive practice. All the stages necessitate regular practice to be maintained at a high level.

With an increase in skilled slacklining performance, there is considerable improvement in balance and reduction in reflexive muscle responses that produce oscillations which can otherwise lead to loss of balance.

This is attributed to descending commands from the cerebral cortex that are responsible for producing presynaptic inhibition of reflexive muscle responses that suppresses body oscillations.

The efficacy of slacklining training in reducing the risk of falls in patients with Parkinson’s disease was proved by Santos et al. who enrolled 22 patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease for this purpose.

Patients followed their usual weekly physical activity with the addition of twelve balance training sessions using a slackline for six weeks. After which, a footscan baropodometric platform was employed to assess postural instability in each individual.

Based on the findings, the authors concluded that slacklining proved to be a simple, safe and challenging training and rehabilitation tool for Parkinson’s disease to reduce the risk of falls and improve confidence related to the fear of falling.

In another study conducted by Volery et al., slackliners reported impressions of greater progress in balance-related outcomes when compared with other groups; this led the authors to advocate slacklining as both a rehabilitation training device and as an established sensorimotor training for athletes.

MASS4D® customised foot orthotics can be used in conjunction with exercises meant for improved postural balance to build strength in the muscles of the feet by calibrating the orthotic to accommodate specific musculoskeletal changes brought about by foot conditions or a weak foot posture.

These customised foot orthotics will also provide protection to the feet from the repeated stresses and trauma of everyday life so as to increase functionality of the lower limbs, improve gait patterns and enhance mobility in patients with foot postural disparities.

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  1. Volery, S., Singh, N., de Bruin, E. D., List, R., Jaeggi, M. M., Baur, B. M., Lorenzetti, S. (2017) Traditional Balance and Slackline Training are Associated with Task-specific Adaptations as Assessed with Sensorimotor Tests. European Journal of Sport Science: April 2017. DOI: 10.1080/17461391.2017.1317833
  2. Santos, L., Fernandez-Rio, J., Winge, K., Barragán-Pérez, B., Rodríguez-Pérez, V., González-Díez, V., Blanco-Traba, M., Suman, O. E., Gabel, C. P., Rodríguez-Gómez, J. (2016) Effects of Supervised Slackline Training on Postural Instability, Freezing of Gait and Fall Efficacy in People with Parkinson´s Disease. Disability and Rehabilitation: July 2016. DOI: 10.1080/09638288.2016.1207104
  3. Gabel, C. P., Mendoza, S. (2013) Slacklining for Lower Extremity Rehabilitation and Injury Prevention. International Journal of Athletic Training & Training: July 2013, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 14-19.

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