Proprioception Exercises

Proprioception or balance type exercises for lower leg rehabilitation. Proprioception is about our spatial awareness and sense of where parts of our body are. After injury this is damaged making us more susceptible to re-injury, especially with ankle sprains.

Medicine ball catch

The medicine ball catch exercise is designed to challenge the single leg although various progressions can be added to make it more difficult. This develops proprioception after lower limb injuries.

Teaching Points:

  • Start off standing on a single leg.
  • Get a partner or therapist to throw a ball towards you so you can catch it.
  • Maintain your balance throughout.
  • Start with gentle throws directly towards your body.
  • As you improve try slightly harder throws or throws slightly off to the side or overhead.
  • A further challenge is to do the same exercise whilst balancing on a wobble board.

Heel toe balance

The heel toe balance exercise, sometimes called a tandem stance is designed to start to work on proprioception and balance. This is a good build-up to wobble board work.

Teaching Points:

  • The athlete stands with the involved foot immediately behind the other foot, with the toes touching the front heel as shown.
  • This position should be held for 30 seconds without losing balance.

Stork balance

The stork balance is a simple single leg balance exercise, although various progressions can be added to make it more difficult. It improves balance and proprioception.

Teaching Points:

  • The athlete begins by standing on the injured leg only for 30 seconds.
  • Once this is accomplished the athlete closes their eyes to increase the difficulty.
  • The next step is to balance on an unstable surface such as a trampette, wobble cushion or half foam roller.

Heel toe walking

Heel toe walking is a great exercise for the ankle and calf muscles. It will strengthen all muscles of the lower leg, as well as help improve proprioception or balance.

Teaching Points:

  • Walk slowly across the floor.
  • Start with a heel strike and once you get to the forefoot push-off, come up onto the toes.
  • Swing the other leg forward and heel strike with the next foot to continue.

Muscles Worked:

  • Gastrocnemius
  • Soleus
  • Tibialis Posterior
  • Tibialis Anterior
  • Peroneus Longus
  • Peroneus Brevis