Purpose: The objective of this study is to examine the acute effect of ankle joint mobilizations akin to those performed in everyday clinical practice on sagittal plane ankle joint kinematics during a single-leg drop landing in participants with chronic ankle instability (CAI).
Methods: Fifteen participants with self-reported CAI (defined as <24 on the Cumberland Ankle Instability Tool) performed three single-leg drop landings under two different conditions: 1) premobilization and, 2) immediately, postmobilization. The mobilizations performed included Mulligan talocrural joint dorsiflexion mobilization with movement, Mulligan inferior tibiofibular joint mobilization, and Maitland anteroposterior talocrural joint mobilization. Three CODA cx1 units (Charnwood Dynamics Ltd., Leicestershire, UK) were used to provide information on ankle joint sagittal plane angular displacement. The dependent variable under investigation was the angle of ankle joint plantarflexion at the point of initial contact during the drop landing.
Results: There was a statistically significant acute decrease in the angle of ankle joint plantarflexion from premobilization (34.89° ± 4.18°) to postmobilization (31.90° ± 5.89°), t(14) = 2.62, P < 0.05 (two-tailed). The mean decrease in the angle of ankle joint plantarflexion as a result of the ankle joint mobilization was 2.98° with a 95% confidence interval ranging from 0.54 to 5.43. The eta squared statistic (0.32) indicated a large effect size.
Conclusion: These results indicate that mobilization acted to acutely reduce the angle of ankle joint plantarflexion at initial contact during a single-leg drop landing. Mobilization applied to participants with CAI has a mechanical effect on the ankle joint, thus facilitating a more favorable positioning of the ankle joint when landing from a jump.