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Why Standing on 1 Leg Decreases Ankle Sprains

The key to recovery and prevention of recurrent ankle injuries is to allow the torn ligament to heal in the appropriate position. For this the ankle should be placed in an ankle brace (lace-up/speed brace) as soon as possible following injury. The brace should be worn day and night for the 1st 6 weeks. Taking the brace off at night allows the foot to point down (plantar flexion) for hours causing the ligament to heal in a lengthened position. This increases the risk of chronic instability and pain.

Re-injury can be prevented by proprioceptive training. Proprioception is your brain’s ability to know where your foot is in space. Often, after ankle sprains, the proprioceptive pathways are disrupted. The brain compensates by using visual input (your eyes) to know where your foot is in space. When you cannot see your foot (carry large object or at night) the ankle may feel unstable or even “roll over” (sustain another sprain).

Proprioceptive training essentially means that through sensory input, joints and muscles become more responsive. This improves coordination, muscle tone and  decreases the risk of further ankle sprains. One example of these exercises is one-leg balance test with closed eyes. Doing this exercise for 1-2 minutes twice a day can make a difference. Start with your eyes open and as you get better close your eyes.

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