This post might be a little different than what I normally write about, but I thought it was an interesting topic to discuss because not a lot of people who what proprioceptive exercises are! I always believe that knowledge is power – so with that being said, what are proprioceptive exercises, and why do they matter to athletes?
Definition: Proprioception is the sense of knowing where a body part is in space. The concept can be difficult to grasp until you lose it because so much proprioception occurs without out conscious much thought. Proprioception abilities can be injured when joints are injured, such as with an ankle sprain or ACL tear.
There is a lot of evidence that indicates proprioceptive training can improve strength, coordination, muscular balance, and muscle-reaction times. There are also studies that link proprioceptive work with a reduced risk of injury during sporting activity, which is great for serious athletes. Also, although there is nothing now, the field does think that future investigations will find that improved proprioception can also boost athletic performance.
To fully understand proprioception and proprioceptive training if you’re an athlete, you need to remember that as you carry out your athletic movements your overall muscular activity, your range of motion, and your body posture are all the products of sensory-nerve activity. This activity is received, and acted on by your brain and spinal cord (aka, your ‘central nervous system’). Your CNS actually gets the information needed to control your movements from three ‘subsystems’ within your body – your ‘somatosensory system’, your ‘vestibular system’, and your ‘visual system’.
So – what happens when you lose proprioception of an ankle joint after a sprain is that you may complain of an unstable sensation of the joint. This means that the joint may randomly give-out, which is where proprioceptive exercises come into play. What proprioceptive exercises do is teach your body to control the position of an injured joint – pretty cool right?
There are lots of different proprioceptive exercises that help several different kinds of injuries, and your physical therapies is a great resource! If you think that you may have an injury that would benefit from proprioceptive exercises you should get in touch and see if we can help.
I am always open to any questions you may have – so feel free to leave a comment below. Alternatively you can give our clinic a call at 201-585-7300, or fill out the contact form on our website.