Ankle Rehabilitation – Why Proprioception Is Key!

Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries. A sprain is defined as a tearing of the ligaments that connect bone to bone and help stabilise the ankle joint. Sports that require sudden changes in direction or physical contact have a high incidence of ankle ligament injuries. Following an ankle sprain, the ankle joint may become unstable and take a long time to recover and evidence shows you are more likely to re-injure the same ankle due to weakness and instability in the joint.

What is Proprioception? Proprioception is the body’s ability to sense the position of your body and react to stimuli with the proper body movement. Put simply, it is the ability to know where your body part is without having to look. Proprioceptors are located in the muscles and ligaments around joints, these receptors sense tension and stretch and pass information to the brain.  The brain then sends signals to the muscles to contract or relax to move appropriately to function and protect the joint. Proprioception is often referred to as the sixth sense and it is the body’s natural reflex. Following an injury to the ligaments or muscles around the ankle, the receptors become diminished in its ability to sense the position of your body. The ankle often feels weak and unstable causing loss in balance.

The exercises used in rehabilitation and injury prevention programs are mostly balance-based exercises for your ankle. Some exercise may include: walking heel to toe, step-ups, single leg balance with eyes open or closed and single leg mini squats. Equipment such as wobble boards, dura discs or bosu balls are used to test your balance further.

If you would like some more information on safe and specific exercises to prevent or rehabilitate your ankle injury, please visit our website or email


Daniel Nguyen (B.Sc. Exercise Physiology)
Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AES, AEP)(ESSAM)