The foot and ankle are the most commonly injured body parts in ballet dancers. One of the most common ankle injuries is a lateral ankle sprain. This usually happens when you roll your ankle towards the outer edge of your foot. Ankle sprains can cause pain, disability, and delay your return to training. Furthermore, one ankle sprain can develop into a chronic ankle instability if not treated, predisposing you to more ligamentous damage and other injuries because of the lack of support from your ankle ligaments.
Mechanoreceptors are sensory neurons that detect movement or a static position of a joint by sending information from your skin, joints, tendons and ligaments to your brain. Your brain then signals to muscles to fire to adjust, correct, or refine the joint position. This process is called proprioception.
During a lateral ankle sprain, the ligaments on the outside of the ankle become damaged, and so the flow of information to the brain about the ankle joint’s position and movements becomes impaired. This results in diminished balance sense and an inability to detect a faulty ankle position or movement. Over time, the lack of proprioception can result in repeated sprains, loss of strength and function, and time lost from dancing.
It is important, then, to correctly rehabilitate any existing ankle instability, or if you have not had a sprain, to prevent them from occurring. A few studies in dancers and other athletes show that wearing textured insoles in your non-training shoes can help improve your proprioception sense and prevent recurring injuries. Talk to your physical therapist about this prior to wearing textured insoles.
Additionally, specific balance exercises can help improve your proprioception. Contact us at Potentia Therapeutics to start rehabilitating your sprained ankle, or just to improve your balance and stability.