The Effect of a 5-Week Wobble-Board Exercise Intervention on Ability to Discriminate Different Degrees of Ankle Inversion, Barefoot and Wearing Shoes: A Study in Healthy Elderly


Address correspondence to Gordon S. Waddington, PhD, Director Canberra Research Annexe, School of Physiotherapy, The University of Sydney, Australia, PO Box 11, Woden ACT 2605, Australia. E-mail:


Objectives: There is some evidence of an improvement in falls risk in the elderly after completing a wobble-board training program. This study examined the effects of wobble-board training on ability to discriminate between different extents of ankle inversion movements in a group of older subjects, tested wearing shoes and barefoot.

Design: A randomized, controlled, crossover pilot study.

Setting: Canberra region, Australia.

Participants: Twenty community-dwelling subjects aged 65 to 85 participated in this study; all were in good health with no known disorder of the musculoskeletal system.

Measurements: The accuracy with which subjects could identify a set of ankle inversion movements of different extents was measured, with testing conducted in an upright, weightbearing stance.

Intervention: The effects of a 5-week training program using a wobble board modified for data logging or a period of normal activity only were assessed. Subjects underwent an ankle movement discrimination test pre- and posttraining, with shoes on and off.

Results: Greater improvement in ankle movement discrimination capability was made in subjects who underwent wobble-board training than in subjects who did not train (F1,18=11.2, P=.003). Active movements at the ankle were also significantly better discriminated throughout when subjects were wearing shoes than when barefoot (F1,18=40.6, P=.001).

Conclusion: Training with a wobble board provides a simple in-home intervention that improves ability to differentiate between extent of movements into ankle inversion in subjects aged 65 and older. Research on trip and fall frequency after wobble-board use is needed before such training could be widely used.