Current theoretical models suggest that ankle sprain copers exhibit movement adaptations contributing to the avoidance of chronic ankle instability. However, few studies have examined adaptations at the level of biomechanical motor synergies. The purpose was to examine characteristics of the support moment synergy between individuals with chronic ankle instability, copers, and healthy individuals. A total of 48 individuals participated in the study. Lower-extremity kinetics and variability in the moment of force patterns were assessed during the stance phase of walking trials. The copers exhibited reductions in the support moment during the load response and preswing phase compared with the chronic ankle instability group, as well as during the terminal stance and preswing phase compared the healthy group. The copers also exhibited reductions in the hip extensor moment and ankle plantarflexion moment compared with healthy and chronic ankle instability groups during intervals of stance phase. Variability of the support moment and knee moment was greater in the copers compared with the chronic ankle instability group. Dampening of the support moment and select joint moments exhibited by the copers may indicate an adaptive mechanism to mitigate loading perturbations on the previously injured ankle. Heightened motor variability in copers may be indicative of a more adaptable motor synergy compared with individuals with chronic ankle instability.
Adam E. Jagodinsky, Rebecca Angles, Christopher Wilburn and Wendi H. Weimar
Adam E. Jagodinsky, Christopher Wilburn, Nick Moore, John W. Fox and Wendi H. Weimar
Context: Ankle bracing is an effective form of injury prophylaxis implemented for individuals with and without chronic ankle instability, yet mechanisms surrounding bracing efficacy remain in question. Ankle bracing has been shown to invoke biomechanical and neuromotor alterations that could influence lower-extremity coordination strategies during locomotion and contribute to bracing efficacy. Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of ankle bracing on lower-extremity coordination and coordination dynamics during walking in healthy individuals, ankle sprain copers, and individuals with chronic ankle instability. Design: Mixed factorial design. Setting: Laboratory setting. Participants: Forty-eight recreationally active individuals (16 per group) participated in this cross-sectional study. Intervention: Participants completed 15 trials of over ground walking with and without an ankle brace. Main Outcome Measures: Coordination and coordination variability of the foot–shank, shank–thigh, and foot–thigh were assessed during stance and swing phases of the gait cycle through analysis of segment relative phase and relative phase deviation, respectively. Results: Bracing elicited more synchronous, or locked, motion of the sagittal plane foot–shank coupling throughout swing phase and early stance phase, and more asynchronous motion of remaining foot–shank and foot–thigh couplings during early swing phase. Bracing also diminished coordination variability of foot–shank, foot–thigh, and shank–thigh couplings during swing phase of the gait cycle, indicating greater pattern stability. No group differences were observed. Conclusions: Greater stability of lower-extremity coordination patterns as well as spatiotemporal locking of the foot–shank coupling during terminal swing may work to guard against malalignment at foot contact and contribute to the efficacy of ankle bracing. Ankle bracing may also act antagonistically to interventions fostering functional variability.