Mystery of Chronic Ankle Instability: Stiff ankles or too much movement? What Your Ankles Might Be Telling You.

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Ever felt pain, instability, or recurrent injuries in your ankles? That might be chronic ankle instability (CAI), a condition influenced by various factors like mechanics, sensory-motor issues, and even psychological aspects. Previous research hinted at faulty movement patterns in chronic ankle instability, and now a recent study dives deeper into how limited ankle motion might be contributing to the problem.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Focus: Researchers looked at the biomechanics of active individuals with chronic ankle instability, particularly how they landed on a single leg during certain tasks. The key question was whether their static ankle flexibility (dorsiflexion range of motion) played a role in how they performed these movements.
  2. Participant Groups: The participants were divided into 3 groups: hypomobile (limited flexibility – stiff ankles), normal, and hypermobile (excessive flexibility – too much movement).
  3. Biomechanical Differences: The results showed significant differences in how participants landed based on their ankle flexibility. Those with limited flexibility (hypomobile) had less dorsiflexion and more hip flexion during landing, while those with excessive flexibility (hypermobile) tended to adopt an ankle inversion strategy.
  4. Muscle Activity Findings: Muscle activity patterns also varied. The hypomobile group used more muscles around the ankle but less thigh muscle, while the hypermobile group leaned toward a knee-dominant landing strategy.

Implementing in Practice:

  1. Tailored Interventions: chronic ankle instability has multiple factors at play, and this study emphasises the need for tailored interventions. We need identify specific impairments and customise the approach accordingly to individual patient findings.
  2. Restoring Ankle Motion: Around 25% of chronic ankle instability patients in the study had reduced ankle motion. Physiotherapy interventions have been proven effective in restoring sagittal plane motion at the ankle, even in long-standing cases.
  3. Balance and Proprioception Training: About 20% of CAI patients had greater ankle flexibility, leading to a susceptibility to ankle inversion. Incorporating balance and proprioceptive training becomes crucial for this group to enhance stability and prevent recurrent injuries.

In conclusion, understanding chronic ankle instability involves considering a variety of factors. Physiotherapists play a key role in evaluating ankle flexibility, addressing impairments, and tailoring interventions to optimize movement patterns and reduce the risk of further injuries.

Our clinicians tailor a program based on your needs so you can confidently return back to sport or activity. If you are suffering from stiff ankles or excessive movements causing recurrent sprains book in with our physiotherapists to get your program.


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