You have probably heard of proprioception many times, especially when it comes to recovering from injuries or exercising in unstable conditions. This word, which does not reflect anything other than a meaning, takes on great importance in all kinds of training routines. If you want to learn more about what proprioception is, join us in this article.

Proprioception: characteristics and basic notions

As we have said, proprioception is a sense. A sense that helps our body to be aware of the position and conditions of our muscles and body parts. If you close your eyes for a moment and think about your hand, you can tell if it is open or closed, and to what extent each finger is. This is proprioception.

Our ability to proprioception depends on a whole series of nerve receptors that are found in all joints and muscles of the body. Thanks to this, the CNS (central nervous system) constantly receives all kinds of information about the position, state, tension and orientation of each of these receptors. Thus, our brain is able to “map” a complete scan of our own body.

Why is it important to exercise proprioception?

If you are aware of the exact state and position of each part of your body, you will also be able to react more quickly to all kinds of stimuli. Correct your posture to avoid falling to the ground after spraining an ankle, pick up a falling glass before it hits the ground and, ultimately, be more prepared to avoid accidents and injuries.

Injuries to the muscles and joints damage proprioceptive nerve receptors. Because of this, when we play sports after an injury we are more likely to suffer new injuries in the same area. To avoid these cycles of injuries, it is essential to work to improve proprioception, both preventively and in recovery routines.

So how to train proprioception?

“Training our sense of proprioception is not nearly as difficult as it might seem. The key is to work out exercises in situations of imbalance or instability regularly.”

By training like this, we force our body to reactivate these receptors, in addition to involving a greater number of muscle fibers in each movement to compensate for unwanted movements.

Thus, when training with exercises in unstable conditions, we not only improve our coordination, but we also achieve greater muscular involvement. To achieve this, we can use all kinds of material, from fit balls to tilting plates.

It is also possible to work limiting our balance limiting ourselves to subtracting points of support. In this sense, suspension training with TRX can also be of great help. Even modifications as simple as doing an exercise with one or both eyes closed are valid.

The important thing is to be aware of the objective we are seeking. When it comes to proprioception exercises to prevent injuries, we can take more risks and innovate. With recovery exercises, on the other hand, we will have to look for controlled and more basic imbalances. Let’s look at a couple of exercises to train proprioception:

Push-ups in imbalance

Get into the classic push-up position, with your feet (or knees, if you prefer to reduce the intensity) resting on the floor at shoulder height. Open your arms also at the approximate height of your shoulders, but put under them small training balls or, failing that, tilting platforms.

Now do the push-ups in the normal way, concentrating on maintaining proper balance on your hands and wrists.

Squats on fit ball

Get on a fit ball or bosu and spread your feet at the height of your shoulders, trying to keep your balance. Then do the squat exercise as usual, in a slow motion, concentrating on maintaining stability.

If balancing on the fit ball is too difficult for you, use the bosu or tilting platforms instead. Don’t go too low to protect your ankles. And, as always, any questions that arise, always consult with your coach or physical trainer.