Exercise intensity progression for exercises performed on unstable and stable platforms based on ankle muscle activation.

Research paper by Sebastien S Borreani, Joaquin J Calatayud, Julio J Martin, Juan Carlos JC Colado, Victor V Tella, David D Behm

Indexed on: 04 Sep '13Published on: 04 Sep '13Published in: Gait & Posture


Ankle sprains are a common sports injury. The literature focuses on the application of neuromuscular training for the improvement of balance, injury prevention and rehabilitation. However, there is a dearth of knowledge about the appropriate prescription of exercises using unstable platforms and surfaces. The purpose of this study was to devise an ankle rehabilitation or training program with exercise progression based on the extent of muscle activation, employing platforms with different levels of stability and additional resistance. A descriptive study of electromyography (EMG) during ankle exercises was performed with a convenience sample of healthy subjects. Forty-four subjects completed 12 exercises performed in a random order. Exercises were performed unipedally or bipedally with or without elastic tubing as resistance on various unstable (uncontrolled multiaxial and uniaxial movement) and stable surfaces. Surface EMG from the tibialis anterior (TA), peroneus longus (PL) and soleus (SOL) were collected to quantify the amount of muscle activity. Significant differences were found between exercise conditions for PL (p<.001), TA (p=.011), and SOL (p<.001). The greatest EMG activity for all muscles occurred with an upright unipedal stance on a soft stability surface with resistance. The least EMG activity for the TA and SOL were in a seated position and for the PL in an erect bipedal position without resistance. Based on the level of ankle muscle activation, exercises for the ankle should progress from bilateral exercises on exercise balls (lowest intensity), to a unipedal position on a soft surface in combination with elastic tubing (highest intensity) in order to achieve progressively greater ankle muscle activation.