Volleyball players are at increased risk for ankle sprain. And once an ankle is injured, the chances of spraining it again go up. This large study of 116 volleyball teams presents some ideas for preventing ankle sprains.
Two groups of male and female volleyball players were formed. One group trained on a balance board. This training strengthens muscles and ligaments around the ankle. It also restores proprioception, which is the sense of joint position. A second control group did their regular training program.
The balance training group spent five minutes doing one of 14 different exercises on and off the balance board. Training for both groups was carried out during the 36-week volleyball season.
The number of ankle injuries was reported for every 1000 hours of play. Playing time included practices and games during the season. Players with a previous ankle injury had fewer reinjuries in the balance training group compared to the control group. However, the researchers noticed that players with a history of knee injuries had more knee reinjuries in the balance training group.
The authors conclude that balance board training is a good way to prevent ankle sprains. It doesn't have the negative side effects of ankle tape or bracing. They also note that it may not be a good choice for players with previous knee injuries.Evert Verhagen, et al. The Effect of a Proprioceptive Balance Board Training Program for the Prevention of Ankle Sprains. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. August/September 2004. Vol. 32. No. 6. Pp. 1385-1393.