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Proprioception

Proprioception is the sense of knowing the relative position of ones’ body in space. It is necessary to maintain posture and balance and helps us to co-ordinate movements.The information needed for the brain to know where parts of the body are located without the eyes seeing is provided by proprioceptors. These are located in muscles, tendons and joints. When muscles and joints are damaged nerve endings and pathways are also damaged and the proprioceptive ability can be lost. This may result in impaired balance, decreased co-ordination or a tendency for joints to give way. Any of these may leave you prone to further injury.

Problems are most common with damage to the lower limb joints (ankle, knee) although it can also happen with shoulder and arm injuries. Specific rehabilitation exercises are needed to re-train this sense. These proprioceptive exercises should begin as early as possible in the rehabilitation program as this type of neuromuscular training acts to restore the body’s awareness and is not stressful to the repairing tissues. These exercises usually consist of some kind of balancing task if training the legs. Standing on one leg, standing on tip toes, using a balance board, single leg squats will all improve balance and the proprioceptive sense. For the arms, exercises would include weight bearing exercises in different positions (press ups seated, kneeling, against the wall) to gain input from hand, wrist elbow and shoulder. It is useful to include proprioceptive training into your regular regime on an ongoing basis to aid in injury prevention.