One of the most common musculoskeletal injuries is a lateral ankle sprain. The purpose of this article was to quantify the dynamic balance deficits that characterise a group with chronic ankle instability compared to lateral ankle sprain copers and non-injured controls using kinematic and kinetic outcomes. Forty-two participants with chronic ankle instability and twenty-eight lateral ankle sprain copers were recruited within 2 weeks of sustaining a first-time, acute lateral ankle sprain and required to attend our laboratory 1 year later to complete the current study protocol. An additional group of non-injured individuals were also recruited to act as a control group. All participants completed the anterior, posterior-lateral and posterior-medial reach directions of the star excursion balance test. Sagittal plane kinematics of the lower extremity and associated fractal dimension of the centre of pressure path were also acquired. Participants with chronic ankle instability displayed poorer performance in the anterior, posterior-medial and posterior-lateral reach directions compared with controls bilaterally, and in the posterior-lateral direction compared with lateral ankle sprain copers on their ‘involved’ limb only. These performance deficits in the posterior-lateral and posterior-medial directions were associated with reduced flexion and dorsiflexion displacements at the hip, knee and ankle at the point of maximum reach, and coincided with reduced complexity of the centre of pressure path.
In comparison with lateral ankle sprain copers and controls, participants with chronic ankle instability were characterised by dynamic balance deficits as measured using the star excursion balance test. This was attested to reduced sagittal plane motions at the hip, knee and ankle joints, and reduced capacity of the stance limb to avail of its supporting base.