Whether I am training an elite athlete or a middle age mother that has not been in any type of active lifestyle for several years, there are always a few common things I would incorporate into their fitness programs. One being proprioception training.
WHAT IS THAT?
Proprioception is the internal sense that tells you where your body parts are without your having to look at them.(consciously or unconsciously) This internal body awareness relies on receptors in your joints, muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue (Both sensory and motor nerves that send and receive impulses to and from the central nervous system)
– Walking down a flight of stairs at night when the lights are off
– Hitting a baseball without looking at your arm
– Running without looking down at your feet
– Getting out of bed without looking at the floor
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Proprioception training can:
– Rehab an existing injury
– Reduce the risk of injury
– Improve motor function
By teaching the body to react appropriately to sudden changes in an everyday or sporting environment.
WHO SHOULD DO THIS?
Anyone can benefit from proprioception exercises. I often encourage athletes, or individuals that have mostly recovered from and injury – maybe saw a physical therapist for rehab too but no longer are scheduled, and/or an elderly client. Even if you do not fit in a particular category you could perform some simple exercises at home to test your proprioception sense.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
There is loads of equipment on the market today that is designed to improve this. I think many are great, but that doesn’t mean you need them nor start off with them. Please do not go out and buy and Indo board and expect to be a surf star on your first try!
Start off with just you and your floor (a solid/flat surface). It is important to consider your baseline level of skill. I wouldn’t make a person play a hockey game if they have never even worn skates. There is a progression to follow, starting with static balance activities, then progressing to dynamic balance activities, and finally advancing to agility/coordination training. Remember to start simple and slowly increase the complexity.
Static balance activity example:
Stork Stance: Stand on one leg (No shoes). Place the hands on the hips, then position the non-supporting foot against the inside knee of the supporting leg.
Dynamic balance activity example:
On a flat/stable floor, stand on one leg and with the other leg
– Extend Your Leg Forwards
– Extend Your Leg Sideways
– Extend Your Leg Backward
When you are able to perform those easily with each leg, try doing it with your eyes closed
When you can perform the dynamic balance movements on flat ground, you can advance the difficulty by moving to an unstable surface. (Like a bosu ball or balance pad)
Agility & coordination activity example:
Using the Agility Ladder. The main objective of agility ladder drills are to promote a wide range of different foot and movement patterns.
Considerations and Conclusions:
It’s always important to consider:
– The person performing these movements their age, body weight, level of competition and footwear.
– Using correct technique when performing all of the proprioceptive exercises
– Performing the exercises before the regular training session, before fatigue has set in.
– Being in a safe environment and/or with a partner/coach.
Proprioception training is beneficial for people in all walks of life. Having a trainer that is qualified and understanding is a plus too. Go ahead and try a few of the examples at home. You might surprise yourself with how a little bit of practice can go a long way.
If you’d like support or have questions, message me any time!