How Is Your Proprioception?

by Dr. Wendy Schauer, D.C., R.K.C. on October 16, 2012

My what?  Isn’t that a great word?  Proprioception.  The definition of proprioception is:

”the ability to sense the position and location and orientation and movement of the body and its parts.” (Princeton’s WordNet) Proprioception is your awareness of your body in space and knowing where a body part is without looking.  You reach to scratch your nose without looking. You know how to walk without looking at your feet.  You can drive your car without looking at your hands on the steering wheel.

Proprioception includes balance, coordination and agility.  Any injury can alter your proprioception so it isn’t just a fact of getting older.  I was at a seminar recently where an early 30 something year old had horrible balance.  He had a knee injury that was rehabbed but he hadn’t been working on balance.

The great news is you can improve your balance and proprioception very easily.  You must start with the basics and work your way up.  Do not get tempted to go to the gym and get on the BOSU ball or wobble board.  First you must be able to get your balance on the floor.

Stand with one leg on the ground and the other leg bent at 45 degrees (stork pose).  Keep your eyes open and see how long you can stand without wobbling or putting your foot on the ground.  The goal is 35 seconds for each leg. Once you can get to 35 seconds then do with your eyes closed.  The goal is 25 seconds for each leg.

When your balance is improving will feel your feet and ankles shifting around a bit and your torso will stay relatively steady.  When you are able to stay balanced eyes open and eyes closed then you can move on to more advanced.  Stand on one leg and have someone nudge you front, back sides and see if you can stay strong.  Now try it with your eyes closed.  Make sure the person who is nudging you doesn’t push too hard.  You need just a bit of a challenge.

You will find your balance getting better in a relatively quick period of time.  Once your balance is better I would recommend doing the exercises several times per week to keep your proprioception in top shape.

Yours In Health!

Dr. Wendy

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