Proprioception is a term you can easily find in any training or injury management book.
Maybe your trainer talks to you about the need to develop proprioception through movement to improve your performance, or a training partner tells you that you’re unsteady in strides because you lack proprioception of the body.
What is Proprioception?
The sensory information we receive about the position and movement of our own head, torso, and joints.
Yet proprioception is a vaguely defined term, sometimes insufficiently characterised because of the unknown mechanisms that regulate it.
So, we’re still unclear about its definition: What is the sensory information that refers to proprioception?
This sensory information is not based on what our vision or auditory system captures, but on what our proprioceptive system detects: through the activation of the proprioceptors, located in areas of deep tissue, capable of sending afferent information to the nervous system about where our body segments are located.
What is proprioception for?
Proprioception helps us be more conscious of our body.
To be more conscious of our muscular system and how it behaves in space, and to improve our dynamic adjustments of the static position of our joints by moving in space to maintain balance.
Functions it acts upon
Proprioception acts on the regulation of body control in closed control tasks at slow or moderate speed, where the feedback is compared to a standard or a target pursued during the course of the action rather than on the actual control of the action.
Closed loop control mechanism.
In this way, proprioception plays an important role in maintaining balance when maintaining a monopodal support (on one leg), or while walking slowly on a slackline, one of the most unstable surfaces we can find.
However, in those processes where muscle control in a critical time interval is more important, proprioception loses a great deal of weight over physical control.
What Proprioception Exercises should I do?
Proprioceptive ankle exercises
- Exercise 1. Static bipodal support in Split position on the floor.
- Exercise 2. Static bipodal support in Split position on a bosu.
- Exercise 3. Static bipodal support in Split position on a board.
Execution of monopodal support on a board.
Changes in the position of the CDG on the pressure platform.
Proprioceptive knee exercises
- Exercise 1. Static monopodal support on floor.
- Exercise 2. Static monopodal support on bosu.
- Exercise 3.Static monopodal support on board.
Proprioceptive shoulder exercises
- Exercise 1. Pike-Hold supported by both hands on the floor.
- Exercise 2. Kettlebell bottom up hold.
- Exercise 3. Turkish Get-Up with Kettlebell.
Proprioceptive elbow exercises
- Exercise 1. Push-up position with support on the ground
- Exercise 2. Push-up position with support on a bosu.
- Exercise 3. Push-up position with support on a Foam Roller.
Proprioceptive wrist exercises
- Exercise 1. Hold a tray in the palm of your hand and keep it balanced.
- Exercise 2. Pick up a tray that a colleague is carrying, with the palm of the hand and keep it balanced.
- Exercise 3. Hold a tray with a ball in the palm of your hand and keep it in balance without dropping it.
How is proprioceptive training done?
Proprioceptive training should be carried out under the supervision of a professional in Physical Activity and Sport Sciences who is responsible for providing information and managing the control of this type of muscle work, as it’s easy to abuse it and apply it as protection against possible future joint injuries in cases where it’s not appropriate.
Graphic representation of the stages of multidisciplinary rehabilitation and readaptation of the athlete.
Equipment for proprioception work
Any type of surface that involves external instability is useful to apply in exercises as material for a proprioception training session (or part of a session) in a suitable way.
The cheapest and easiest to find materials that you can use for your exercises of this type are:
- Balance toner.
- Proprioceptive board.
- Foam Roller.
Proprioception as prevention
Proprioception is trained, erroneously, to prevent injuries, when its capacity to prevent injuries is limited, and is reduced to people who present some type of alteration of this system (injured people undergoing rehabilitation, or neurological patients).
You should increase the number of stimuli (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and tactile) to which you are exposed, to improve dual attention and motor skills.
And you need to improve your specific learning of the gesture and technique, as well as its adaptability to the environment and your individual physiognomy in relation to your muscular system in a specific way.
You should also secure your neuromuscular function through strength training and developing your muscles; and your proprioceptive system with all the information from the exercises we’ve proposed in this article.
Effects of training on nerve plasticity and stimulus adaptation and response.
- Kim, D., van Ryssegem, G., & Hong, J. (2011). Overcoming the myth of proprioceptive training. Clinical Kinesiology, 65(1), 18–28.
- Proske, U., & Gandevia, S. C. (2009). The kinaesthetic senses. Journal of Physiology, 587(17), 4139–4146.
- Riva, D., Bianchi, R., Rocca, F., & Mamo, C. (2016). Proprioceptive Training and Injury Prevention in a Professional Men’s Basketball Team: A Six-Year Prospective Study. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(2), 461–475.
- Rodríguez, B. (2017). Readaptación físico-deportiva de una jugadora de rugby tras la reconstrucción de ligamento cruzado anterior (LCA).
- Tuthill, J. C., & Azim, E. (2018). Proprioception. Current Biology, 28(5), R194–R203.
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