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9.25.2011

Improving Balance But Where?

Knowing Why Helps Your Balance

In order to maintain balance when standing on one leg we immediately use our arms by laterally abducting them away from our body.   Depending on how badly we are out of balance we begin to apply a seemingly infinite number of postural strategies.

Knowing which way to adjust is possible by specialized sensory nerve terminals located in the musculoskeletal system, which include skeletal muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  These specialized sensors are called proprioceptors.  The proprioceptors react to stretch, contractions and muscular tension.

Leg Balance exercise

After a lateral ankle sprain the recurrence rate of injury tends to be upwards of 70%.  Restoration of normal function is critical.  In many training facilities balance training is an important part of rehabilitation.  This type of training is said to restore the proprioceptive signals from the ankle, which helps the athlete to return to play.

Balancing on foam rollers or unstable surfaces is commonplace.  This may be a good practice but for unsuspected reasons.

paraspinalIt seems that unstable surfaces instead of targeting the peripheral ankle proprioceptors, targets the paraspinal musculature.

The paraspinal muscles are next to the spine.  Each muscle controls some part of the movement of the vertebrae and motions of the skeleton.

Balancing on an unstable surface as the athlete returns to play may therefore be good because it actually causes less stress on the ankle and more on the musculature of the upper torso.  The upper torso and arms are used in this instance to keep from falling.  The ankle remains in the best position as the upper body seeks stability and makes most of the corrections.

On a stable surface the ankle is capable of correcting instability and requires much less help from the torso and limbs.

Balancing on unstable surfaces recommended by the trainer and then easing into activity has been a commonplace strategy for post injury rehabilitation, often for all the right, yet wrong reasoning.  No matter how we choose to rehab …it is good to know why we Get Strong..

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