This is the second part to the “Why Your Balance Fails (Not What You Think)” three part series about balance. I’ll be discussing a fairly common reason for balance issues around the ankle. In the
following post, we’ll go over:
- Billy's story,
- What can be the long term results of an ankle sprain,
- How do we check for and train for lack of balance, and
- How does this affect hitting…
Billy was a high school runner and during a training run he twisted his ankle. He didn't seek treatment, but he did stay off his ankle and iced it. A few weeks later he tried running again and noticed that his ankle felt weak and unstable.
I examined him and found out that he had an unstable ankle.
What is the Long-Term Results of an Ankle Sprain?
Most people have sprained their ankle. It is the most common injury in the human body. Most cases seem to heal uneventfully. However, some nerve fibers will become injured resulting in a less effective sensor, resulting in instability.
The medical term for this is Articular Deafferentiation which means: The joint does not send a signal to the brain as to its position.
It has been thought that the instability is due to stretched ligaments, but recent studies have shown that the muscle reaction time is slower in functionally unstable ankles.
6-Steps on How to Check for This…
Watch the video below for a demonstration:
- Stand in a doorway
- Place the hands in the door jamb so that if you fall you can catch yourself
- Stand on one foot
- Move your hands a few inches from the door jamb
- Close your eyes
- Have someone time how long you can maintain your balance without having to touch the door jamb.
What is Normal?
Normal for non athletes is 10 seconds. You should be better than normal. You should be able to maintain your balance for 30 seconds or more.
How do we improve it?
Practice standing in the doorway with your eyes closed for 3 minutes every day. There should be steady and consistent improvement. To further improve on the doorway balance exercise, you can do one of two things (watch the next two videos for a demonstration):
- Try getting up on the ball of the foot and then lowering yourself maintaining balance.
2. Raising the knee and lowering it.
How Does this Affect Hitting?
When the hitter steps forward with the front foot, there is no weight on the front foot when it is off the ground, it is all on the back foot. Since the body weight is in front of the back foot, and supported on the back foot, the body moves forwards. If there is wobble of the ankle, the body wobbles and the ball appears to have movement. At the end of linear movement, body weight is shifted to the front foot.
Remember that only ¼” of a difference is required to change a home run to a long fly ball.
(Joey Myers Comment: I love this simple exercise. These are good for EVERY athlete. I sprain my own ankle during Fall Ball my Freshman year in college. And shockingly, none of this was prescribed to me then…at the Division One college level!!! I'm currently doing this exercise myself after reading the article…thanks Doc! This is what I call a small detail that nets BIG results.)
CLICK HERE for Part-3 to the Why Balance Fails Series titled “Crucial Way To Land On The Foot”.