Purpose: To investigate the effectiveness of a multistation proprioceptive exercise program for the prevention of ankle injuries in basketball players using a prospective randomized controlled trial in combination with biomechanical tests of neuromuscular performance.
Methods: A total of 232 players participated in the study and were randomly assigned to a training or control group following the CONSORT statement. The training group performed a multistation proprioceptive exercise program, and the control group continued with their normal workout routines. During one competitive basketball season, the number of ankle injuries was counted and related to the number of sports participation sessions using logistic regression. Additional biomechanical pre-post tests (angle reproduction and postural sway) were performed in both groups to investigate the effects on neuromuscular performance.
Results: In the control group, 21 injuries occurred, whereas in the training group, 7 injuries occurred. The risk for sustaining an ankle injury was significantly reduced in the training group by approximately 35%. The corresponding number needed to treat was 7. Additional biomechanical tests revealed significant improvements in joint position sense and single-limb stance in the training group.
Conclusions: The multistation proprioceptive exercise program effectively prevented ankle injuries in basketball players. Analysis of number needed to treat clearly showed the relatively low prevention effort that is necessary to avoid an ankle injury. Additional biomechanical tests confirmed the neuromuscular effect and confirmed a relationship between injury prevention and altered neuromuscular performance. With this knowledge, proprioceptive training may be optimized to specifically address the demands in various athletic activities.