An ankle sprain is one of the most common sports injuries for athletes who play field or court sports. In fact, ankle sprains account for 12–20% of all sports injuries. If you play any sport that involves jumping and agility such as basketball, soccer or American football, you might be interested in a simple test to predict your risk of an ankle sprain. Researchers have created a simple, inexpensive screening tool that can predict which athletes may be more likely to have an ankle injury during training or competition. In their study, they found that athletes who were unable to complete a simple single-leg balance exercise were two-and-a-half times more likely to have an ankle sprain during the subsequent season than those who could complete the test. The Single-Leg Balance Test and Results The single-leg balance test required that the athletes close their eyes for ten seconds while standing barefoot on one foot, keeping the other knee bent with the foot off the floor and not touching the weight-bearing leg. The test was considered "positive" if the athlete was unable to perform the test on either one or both legs. The participants were then followed through the sports season to record any incidence of ankle sprains during sports participation. Over a 14-week season, these 230 athletes reported 28 ankle sprains. The study results indicated that athletes with a positive single-leg balance test result were significantly more likely to be among those reporting an ankle sprain. The researchers concluded that although the single-leg balance test served as a predictor of ankle injury, the exact mechanism of action responsible for this increased risk of injury remains unknown. A Simple Balance Exercise Solution Researchers at Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma Centre had 175 high school varsity football players balance for 5 minutes on each leg, 5 days per week, for 4 weeks in preseason and twice per week during the season. They found that these athletes were able to reduce their risk of ankle injury by 77% in the subsequent season. It is clear from these studies that athletes and coaches would be wise to adopt this simple balance exercise protocol in their pre- and in-season training. In addition, those individuals who do not pass the Ankle Sprain Risk Test are advised to tape their ankles during training and competition. Happy Training! Andre Noel Potvin, President of INFOFIT Educators