BACKGROUND: Balance training is widely used in the rehabilitation after an ankle sprain and is thought to have a decreasing effect on postural sway. The present study investigated whether a 5.5-week balance training programme leads to a decreased postural sway showing in a reduced range of centre of pressure excursion.
METHODS: Thirty university students participated in this study. Twenty-two untrained subjects were randomly assigned to either an intervention group (n=11) or a control group (n=11). The remaining eight subjects were participants in an organized volleyball competition and were assigned to an additional volleyball group (n=8). All subjects of the intervention group and the volleyball group received a 5.5-week balance training programme, while subjects of the control group received no training. Centre of pressure of the ground reaction force was measured as a proxy measure of postural sway, using a force platform. Measurements took place before and after the 5.5-week training programme for standing on one leg (both for right and for left leg) of single leg stance, both for the eyes-open and eyes-closed situation. From these measurements centre of pressure excursion in the anterior-posterior and the medial-lateral direction was calculated. A linear regression analysis was performed to check for differences in centre of pressure excursion between any of the groups over the training period.
FINDINGS: No differences in changes of centre of pressure excursion were found between any of the groups over the 5.5-week training period.
INTERPRETATION: Balance training does not lead to a reduction in centre of pressure excursion in a general population consisting of non-injured and previously injured subjects.