Thursday, August 30, 2007


I think there is going to be a series of posts coming up about balance training, or proprioception training .

I think this is an aspect of training that often gets ignored, manly because we think about muscles not movements. Something that, as I have pointed out before, Vern Gambetta warns against.

There are a few things that I want to write about:

that balance training is strength training ;
that walking is really a single leg activity, reliant on balance;
that for injury prevention balance training is at least as important as traditional strength training;
that balance training can be simple; and
that thinking about balance means we must move away from muscles to movements.

"Bodybuiding" has blinded many of us to proper useful training.

This stuff is all relevant to hillwalking as well so will probably be cross linked to

As an example of what I am thinking about, look at this abstract. Balance training was more effective than strength training in preventing ankle sprains in football players:

Comparison of 3 Preventive Methods to Reduce the Recurrence of Ankle Inversion Sprains in Male Soccer Players
Farshid Mohammadi, MSc, PT*

Background: Ankle sprains are frequent injuries in soccer. Several strategies can be used to prevent further ankle sprains in athletes: the most common are proprioceptive training, strength training, and orthoses.

Objective: To investigate which of these 3 interventions is the most effective in preventing ankle sprains in athletes with previous ankle inversion sprain.

Study Design: Randomized controlled trial; Level of evidence, 1.

Methods and Measures: Eighty male soccer players (age, 24.6 ± 2.63 years; height, 175.60 ± 4.36 cm; weight, 64.26 ± 8.37 kg) in the first division of a men’s league who had experienced previous ankle inversion sprain were randomly selected from an original population of 120 players. The subjects were individually and randomly assigned to 4 study groups: group 1 (n = 20) followed the proprioceptive program, group 2 (n = 20) followed the strength program, group 3 (n = 20) used orthoses, and group 4 (n = 20) was the control group. Data on the frequency of ankle sprain reinjury were collected at the end of the session.

Results: There were no significant differences among the groups in the number of exposures. The incidence of ankle sprains in players in the proprioception training group was significantly lower than in the control group (relative risk of injury, 0.13; 95% confidence interval, 0.003–0.93; P = .02). The findings with respect to the strength and orthotic groups in comparison with the control group were not significant (relative risk of injury, 0.5; 95% confidence interval, 0.11–1.87; P = .27 for strength; relative risk of injury, 0.25; 95% confidence interval, 0.03–1.25; P = .06 for orthotic group).

Conclusion: Proprioceptive training, compared with no intervention, was an effective strategy to reduce the rate of ankle sprains among male soccer players who suffered ankle sprain.

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