Ocnutrition’s Blog

What is Proprioception?
September 4, 2010, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Exercise

Proprioception is the body’s ability to convey a sense of position, analyze this information, and determine what reaction is appropriate.  In other words, it is the brain’s ability to know where a body part is without having to look.  This is necessary for performing coordinated movement and maintaining proper posture.  Proprioception allows us to do things such as walk, dress, and type without having to use our eyes for each movement. 

Proprioceptors are specialized sensory receptors located inside muscles, joints, and tendons.  These inform us of the degree to which muscles are contracted, the amount of tension created in the tendons, the change in position of a joint, and the orientation of the head.  It also makes us aware of the weight of objects and determines the amount of muscular force needed to move or lift an object. 

One of the most important tasks of proprioception is in core (trunk) stabilization.  Regular conditioning of the core muscles (abdominals and lower back) is vital for preventing injuries, ensuring correct posture, and create more efficient and functional movements.  The core is the power center of our bodies, so the core muscles can be the weakest link. 

Several studies have shown a close relationship between back pain and various aspects of proprioception.  Research suggests that those with lower back pain tend to have deterioration in certain aspects of proprioception that may persist without proper stability training.

How do we perform this proprioceptive type of training?  If we do exercises on unstable surfaces we will recruit the proprioceptors.  Unstable surfaces can be created in many different ways.  Exercises can be performed on one foot instead of two.  Stable surfaces can be avoided (for example, avoid using the back of a chair while seated).  There are also tools you can use such as stability or Swiss Balls, Dyna discs, balance pads, balance boards, foam rollers, medicine balls, and BOSU.   

We encourage you to start thinking more in terms of core stabilization and using unstable surfaces when you exercise and perform daily activities.  You’ll thank us for the improvements in posture, functional movements, and overall strength.

This information was brought to you by Just for the Health of It, a state-of-the-art personal training and yoga studio in the heart of Orange.  For more information please contact:

Diane McConahay, B.S.
Certified Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor
(714) 639-0494

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