Response to tendon vibration questions the underlying rationale of proprioceptive training

Anat Vilnai Lubetzky, Sarah Westcott McCoy, Deborah Kartin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Proprioceptive training on compliant surfaces is used to rehabilitate and prevent ankle sprains. The ability to improve proprioceptive function via such training has been questioned. Achilles tendon vibration is used in motor-control research as a form of proprioceptive stimulus. Using measures of postural steadiness with nonlinear measures to elucidate control mechanisms, tendon vibration can be applied to investigate the underlying rationale of proprioceptive training. Objective: To test whether the effect of vibration on young adults' postural control depended on the support surface. Design: Descriptive laboratory study. Setting: Research laboratory. Patients or Other Participants: Thirty healthy adults and 10 adults with chronic ankle instability (CAI; age range =1840 years). Intervention(s): With eyes open, participants stood in bilateral stance on a rigid plate (floor), memory foam, and a Both Sides Up (BOSU) ball covering a force platform. We applied bilateral Achilles tendon vibration for the middle 20 seconds in a series of 60-second trials and analyzed participants' responses from previbration to vibration (pre-vib) and from vibration to postvibration (vib-post). Main Outcome Measure(s): We calculated anterior-posterior excursion of the center of pressure and complexity index derived from the area under multiscale entropy curves. Results: The excursion response to vibration differed by surface, as indicated by a significant interaction of P , .001 for the healthy group at both time points and for the CAI group vibpost. Although both groups demonstrated increased excursion from pre-vib and from vib-post, a decrease was observed on the BOSU. The complexity response to vibration differed by surface for the healthy group (pre-vib, P , .001). The pattern for the CAI group was similar but not significant. Complexity changes vib-post were the same on all surfaces for both groups. Conclusions: Participants reacted less to ankle vibration when standing on the BOSU as compared with the floor, suggesting that proprioceptive training may not be occurring. Different balance-training paradigms to target proprioception, including tendon vibration, should be explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-107
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Athletic Training
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2017


  • Ankle sprain
  • Balance
  • Bosu
  • Chronic ankle instability
  • Foam
  • Postural control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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