Sue Falsone | Director of Performance Physical Therapy and Team Sports

Reoccurring ankle sprains often have less to do with a lack of strength around the ankle as much as a loss of balance and proprioception—the ability to know where your joint is in space. Proprioception is a fancy word, but the concept is relatively simple. Here’s how it works:
Close your eyes and make a fist. Place one finger up, then two. You can sense where your fingers are, right? That’s not because you’re looking at them, but because you can feel them due to proprioceptors in your ligaments.

When you first sprain your ankle, you damage the ligaments, which in turn damage the proprioceptors in that area. When you suffer another sprain, it isn’t necessarily a lack of strength that’s at fault, but since you weren’t looking at your ankle, you had less of a sense of where it was in space, so you turned it. Re-establishing balance and proprioception will help you avoid future ankle sprains. Try balance activities that challenge your vision, like the 5-level progression below.
Directions:
Perform this progression as part of your training program or at home when you have a few minutes. Progress from one level to the next to continue challenging yourself and improving proprioception. Do this someplace where you can easily touch to regain your balance if needed, such as a doorway.
-Level 1: Stand on one leg for 30 seconds. Repeat on your other leg.
-Level 2: Same as level one, but with your eyes closed.
-Level 3: Same as level one, but stand on an unstable surface like a pillow or “stability trainer.”
-Level 4: Same as level three, but with your eyes closed.
-Level 5: Standing on one leg, turn your head to the left, right, up, and down. This is one repetition. Repeat 5 times. _______________________________________________________________________________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sue Falsone | Director of Performance Physical Therapy and Team Sports
Sue received her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Daemen College in Amherst, New York. She continued her education by earning a Master’s Degree in Human Movement Science with a concentration in Sports Medicine from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Sue has presented at both state and national level conferences in areas focusing on pillar strength, Integration of Physical Therapy and Performance Training and Comprehensive Kinetic Chain Assessment and Rehabilitation.
Sue is a board certified clinical specialist in sports physical therapy (SCS), a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. She is certified in augmented soft tissue mobilization (ASTYM) through Performance Dynamics. She also holds an adjunct faculty position with the human movement program at AT Still University.
Focus at Athletes’ Performance: Sue’s exceptional hands-on skills and knowledge of human movement provides the critical link from therapy to performance. With her expertise, she develops and implements therapy regimens for the athletes and works closely with our performance coaches to integrate the rehabilitating athlete into the training process.