Proprioception: What it is, what it is for and 10 proprioceptive exercises

Proprioception is the body's ability to assess where it is in order to maintain perfect balance while standing, moving or making efforts.

Proprioception happens because there are proprioceptors that are cells that are found in muscles, tendons and joints and that send information to the Central Nervous System that will organize the part of the body, maintaining its correct position, stopped or in movement.

What is proprioception for

Proprioception is very important to maintain body balance, together with the vestibular system that is inside the ear and the visual system, which are also fundamental to standing, without imbalance.

When the proprioceptive system is not properly stimulated, there is a greater risk of falls and sprains, which is why it is important to train it in practitioners of physical activity, but also as a final phase of rehabilitation for all cases of trauma-orthopedics.

Proprioception is also called kinesthesia, and can be classified as:

  • Conscious proprioception: happens through proprioceptors, which allow walking on a tightrope without falling;
  • Unconscious proprioception: these are involuntary activities performed by the autonomic nervous system to regulate the heartbeat, for example.

Performing proprioception exercises in physiotherapy consultations is important, not only to improve balance and precise body movements, but also to prevent the worsening of sports injuries, such as muscle strain, teaching the body how to move to protect the affected area.

Proprioception exercises

Proprioceptive exercises are always indicated when there is an injury in the joint, muscles and / or ligaments and, therefore, they must be guided by a physical therapist to adapt the exercises to what the patient really needs.

Some examples of proprioceptive exercises are described below, and have been ordered according to their degree of difficulty:

  1. Walk in a straight line for 10 meters, with one foot in front of the other;
  2. Walk for 10 meters on different types of surfaces, such as floor, mat, pillow;
  3. Walk in a straight line using only the toes, heels, lateral or inner edge of the foot, interchangeably;
  4. The therapist stands behind the person and asks them to stand on one foot and pass the ball back, turning only the trunk;
  5. Do 3 to 5 squats with only 1 foot on the floor, arms extended in front, and then with eyes closed;
  6. Standing on a rounded surface, like a half-wilted ball or rocker, for example;
  7. Stand on one foot on an unstable surface such as a rocker or withered ball and draw a circle in the air;
  8. Jump on the trampoline, lifting one knee at a time;
  9. Standing on the rocker, close your eyes while the therapist pushes the person off balance and he cannot lose his balance;
  10. On an unstable surface, play ball with the therapist without unbalancing.

These exercises can be performed daily, for about 10 to 20 minutes as long as it does not cause pain. Placing a cold water bottle in the affected area can be helpful in reducing the pain, and the swelling that can appear after training.