Proprioception exercises in physiotherapy
Today we are talking about proprioception. Proprioception is closely related to our balance. Let’s elaborate a bit more on proprioception: it’s our body’s ability to know where our body parts are in space and to feel our movements. The operation of proprioception is complex, but in a simplified way, receptors located in our muscles, our ligaments and our skin send signals to our brain during our movements. The latter analyzes the information and can correct the position of our body parts by sending a message to our muscles.
We are in the middle of winter. Despite the cold, you take out your coat, tuque and mittens, because you are determined to keep yourself in good shape. Your goal: to walk 30 minutes in your neighborhood. During your walk, you are distracted and take a step on the edge of the sidewalk. Your foot turns inward, causing an immediate sharp pain on the side of your ankle. It appears that you have sprained your ankle, for the third time in the past few years. You’re beginning to wonder what you could do to reduce the risk of a fourth sprain. The answer is here!
Proprioception exercises are the key. They reduce the risk of injury to the ankle, knee, back, shoulder and many other joints. Athletes regularly work their proprioception, but you can also work at home with simple exercises.
What can decrease proprioception
Different injuries can cause a decrease in proprioception. Knee or ankle sprains and tendonitis are good examples, no matter the joint involved. For example, there is often a decrease in proprioception of the scapula during a muscle tear in the shoulder. In addition to injuries, age, fatigue or other diseases can affect proprioception.
Regardless of your condition, CMI Clinic physiotherapists will assess your abilities and determine whether proprioception exercises are necessary.
What to expect during your physiotherapy consultation. Your physiotherapist will teach you various exercises to improve proprioception. Some of them have to be performed in a gym or in our clinics because they require special equipment. Other exercises can easily be completed at home.
Physiotherapists generally recommend exercises that require a ball, a Bosu (half ball) or balance boards. Exercises can include weight transfers, squats or upper body movements. Do not hesitate to consult your physiotherapist for advice on how to perform these exercises.
At home, you can improve the proprioception of your leg by balancing on a cushion or pillow. Try to close your eyes if you want to increase the difficulty of the exercise. For your arm, you can trace the letters of the alphabet against a wall with a balloon under your hand. These exercises are simple, but they can quickly be modified to increase the difficulty as you progress.
Having good proprioception
For more active people, good proprioception will reduce the risk of injuring yourself while practicing your daily activities. For those who enjoy running or hiking, this will increase the stability of your legs.
For elderly people, these exercises will increase your balance and reduce your reaction time in case of imbalance. Your risk of falling will thus be reduced!
Regardless of your age or activity level, it is beneficial to add some proprioception exercises to your workout routine. This way, you can go home without any injuries the next time you take a walk in your neighborhood.
Do not wait to see your physiotherapist. We will be happy to evaluate your physical abilities and recommend good exercises, after an injury or simply for preventive purposes.