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Proprioception - What, Why, and How To Improve it

Updated on August 4, 2013

What is proprioception?

Proprioception is awareness of the position of your body parts and the degree of the effort being utilized in movements. Basically it’s being able to control limbs and torso without looking at them.

Proproception is being able to touch your nose with out have to look at a mirror, or quickly correcting your stance due to uneven terrain so you don't roll your ankle.

Why train proprioceptors?

Training is often done as a means of rehabilitation after an injury such as a serious ankle sprain. It is also used for sport and performance training. The idea is that our body quickly sends and receives messages to the brain from our joints, muscles and ligaments. Through stretch, reflex pressure, texture and changes in terrain causes your body to send vital information to your central nervous system and allowing you to respond accordingly. Through training your body becomes more adapted to changes in terrain and balance is improved and information is sent and received faster and proper amount of force is used.

Why has it become more popular recently?

One of the main reasons for its recent popularity is the amount of people that are training for function and not just strength or looks. With an increase need for improved core, balance and stability, there is also more popularity in training to improve them. Proprioception is also being used a great deal more as a means of preventing falls. This is especially important as we age. If a part of the body failed to execute properly when, it could in theory cause a chain reaction and a fall could prove serious.


5 different ways to train proprioception

  1. Single leg stance - Begin by standing on one leg by lifting you other leg up so it is roughly 90 degrees and hold that position. Hold for few seconds and then switch sides and repeat with the other leg.
  2. Hopping from single leg stance - Performed the same as above except instead of stepping from leg to leg, you hop from leg to leg. Try not to drop your foot you are holding up when you land. Do this well maintaining you balance.
  3. Two legged stance on a unstable surface - A unstable surface could be either a wobble board or even a bosu ball. By performing exercises such as squats on an unstable surface, you are working on proprioception. For some people just standing on the bosu-ball or unstable surface is plenty of a challenge.
  4. Stable surface to unstable surface. By standing on a floor and jumping onto a Bosu is an example of stable to unstable. Careful, this can be harder than you think and be sure not to roll over on your ankles. When your become experienced, try jumping form 1 leg stance onto it.
  5. Unstable surface to unstable surface - This is where it gets exciting but tricky so be careful. While standing on a unstable surface jump to another unstable surface. This would be similar to hoping from one bosu ball to another and repeat back to the start.

Remember with exercises like the ones listed above, make sure are able to perform them, and have been cleared by physician before beginning any new exercises


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