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The sixth sense propioception

Updated on March 15, 2011

Have you ever wondered how you can touch your nose with your eyes closed? Without being able to see your finger you're able to infallibly touch your nose within less than 20 mm.

Pulling a wide Burley bicycle trailer heavy with groceries or lumber I thread my bicycle through a whole series of obstacles without ever looking at the trailer. When my buddies try to pull the same trailer they inevitably get caught up in bushes by the side of the road or bounce the trailer off light posts and mail boxes. One knocked down a whole string of bikes domino style lined up outside Sports Junkies.

Quick question from tenth grade biology. How many senses are there? 5 of course - sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. A school you you get 100% on that answer. But it misses out on another subtle sense you seldom are aware of - proprioception. Proprioception is our sense of position in 3 dimensional space.

Skiing, gymnastics, pole-vaulting all require a subtle sense of position in space,

You probably never appreciate proprioception until you injure a joint. Last fall l sprained my ankle badly (a complete inward inversion of my lett ankle) while skateboarding. 4 months later the joint had recovered, but there was something wrong.

Usually walking and stairs is something you do without thinking. But now unless I focused my eyes carefully on my foot and the terrain I seemed to always be lifting my left too high or not high enough. Descending stairs I kept misjudging the steps by landing either too heavily or with my foot still a couple of centimeters above ground.

My recovery routine has been daily cycling and a daily 5 kilometer walk. Finally I'm backing to walking normally and I have a appreciation of a sense I'd never thought about - proprioception.


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