Joint Proprioception and Injury Incidence in Female Softball Players




Lowenberg, Julie

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Previous research has failed to determine whether proprioceptive ability is related to the incidence of lower-extremity (LE) joint injury. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship among measures of proprioceptive ability, history of LE joint injury, position, and the incidence of LE joint injury in collegiate female softball players. Subjects were 18 collegiate female softball players, ages 18-22 years. Each subject was tested individually for proprioceptive ability at the beginning of a collegiate season of softball competition. Subjects underwent timed tests for static, dynamic, and functional proprioceptive ability. Subjects were also rated (good/poor) according to the proficiency of their performance on these tests. Any history of previous LE joint injury was also recorded, as well as competitive position (infield, outfield, or pitcher). Subjects were then monitored for a 10-week period of practice and competition, and the occurrence of any LE injury was recorded. Ankle injuries were the only type of LE joint injury observed during this period. Logistic regression analysis revealed no relationship between subjects' history of ankle injury and performance on the timed tests for static (x,2 = 0.71, p > .05), dynamic (x,2 = 0.07, p > .05), and functional (x2 = 0.31, p > .05) proprioceptive ability. Also, there was no relationship between the occurrence of ankle injury and subjects' performance on the timed tests for static (x,2 = 1.53, p > .05), dynamic (x,2 = 0.76, p > .05), and functional (x,2 = 0.23, p > .05) proprioceptive ability. Chi-square analysis revealed a significant relationship between subject's history of ankle injury and the occurrence of injury (x,2 = 4.11, p < .05). Subjects who had suffered ankle injuries in the past were more likely (2 out of 3) to sustain an ankle injury than subjects with no previous history of ankle injury (1 out of 14). Also, a significant relationship between subject's performance ratings (good/poor) on the static tests of proprioceptive ability and the occurrence of injury was observed (x,2 = 5.85, p < .05). Subjects rated "poor" on the proprioceptive ability tests were more likely (2 out of 5) to become injured that subjects rated "good" (0 out of 13). Finally, a significant relationship between subject's position (infield/outfield/pitcher) and the history of injury was also observed (x,2 = 6.43, p< .05). Pitchers were more likely to have suffered a previous injury (3 out of 5) than infielders (0 out of 8) or outfielders (1 out of 5). These data demonstrate that ratings of proprioceptive ability are useful for identifying athletes likely to suffer ankle injuries during a competitive softball season. Also, pitchers are more likely to have a history of previous ankle injury; consequently, they may need more bracing or preventative measures to prevent ankle injuries than other players.



proprioception, women, ankles, softball, injuries


Lowenberg, J. L. (2001). Joint proprioception and injury incidence in female softball players (Unpublished thesis). Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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