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To assess the effect of fatigue from sporting activity on ankle stability and proprioception in students at the University of Southampton. A wide range of sporting activity was included from taekwon-do to indoor football.
Subjects were recruited from Southampton University sports facilities. They agreed to perform two dynamic tests before and after they took part in sport. (1) A horizontal hop starting and finishing on the same foot. The best distance from three attempts was recorded. (2) A hexagonal hop test: the subjects hopped around a hexagon marked on the ground in either a clockwise or anticlockwise direction as quickly as possible. The quickest attempt out of three was recorded.
The means before and after exercise were compared using a Student's t test. Both tests were set at the 5% significance level.
Hexagonal hop test (n = 40)
A Student's t test was used to compare the best time for the hexagonal hop test before and after exercise. The t value was 3.95, indicating a significant improvement in hop time after exercise.
Horizonal hop test (n = 25)
At the 5% level, the data are insignificant, with a t value of 0.1107. A general trend of increased distance after exercise (fatigue) was observed (mean of 1.746m before against 1.775m after).
The results show that the subjects made significant improvements in hexagonal hop times with no difference in the distance hopped. This leads to the conclusion that, despite muscular fatigue, ankles appear to be more stable after exercise. Does exercise induce an increase in afferent/efferent nerve impulses to and from muscle spindles around the ankle leading to improved joint position sense?