Proprioception, sounds like rocket science?
Haven't you wondered why even a tiny bump on the pavement could make you fall while walking? Or how a gymnast can perform complex exercises like a backflip on a 10 cm wide (!!!) balance beam? Or how your body 'knows' how to catch a tennis ball with the speed of light? This is where proprioception comes into play.
You might have heard the term proprioception before, when working with me. But what exactly is it? Proprioception comes from the Latin root “sense of self” and can be defined as the body’s joint positioning system in space. It is the ability to determine where a body part is without having to look.
Closing your eyes (removing the visual component of movement) oftentimes makes it more difficult to perform full motion movements (or stretches)...
Proprioception highly depends on the ability of the brain to process information from the muscles, joints and the senses (such as vision). An example of optimized proprioception is the ability to perform a specific exercise, such as a handstand, or just balancing on one leg, in the same perfect form over and over again.
One of the positive aspects of proprioception is the trainability of this underrated system, which means that you can easily with relatively little work. Now, let us show you three ways to easily improve your proprioception:
- Fascial releasing is one of the ways to improve proprioceptive function, based on the the role these layers play in the transmission of information within (muscle) tissue.
- Full range of motion stretching activates muscle "stretch receptors" which also increases proprioceptive function.
- Finally, closing your eyes (removing the visual component of movement) oftentimes makes it more difficult to perform full motion movements (or stretches). This new stimulus improves the development of proprioception.
Note that most exercises that improve your proprioception aren't rocket science. In fact, they are quite simple to perform. However, improving does take time, a lot of time and you have to put in the work consistently as progression is also reversible.
But, once you deliver the work that is needed you will get rewarded in daily life and beyond. For instance by being able to perform the best version of the exercise you are trying to master.
Now, do a handstand, go catch a fish bare handed. Or just stay on one leg for a minute.