A couple of weeks ago, I spoke about the vagus nerve. It’s the largest cranial nerve and transmits both sensory and motor information between the brain and body.
Some of the information it transmits has been gathered by proprioceptive receptors, located in muscles, tendons, joints, the inner ears and on the skin (the last two weren’t consistently mentioned as receptor locations).
Most of you who are reading this have heard of proprioception before. It’s the internal ability to sense the location of your body in space. For example, even if your eyes are closed, you can still bend your outstretched arms and touch your nose.
Proprioception receptors also gathers information about force/pressure. For clarification, when holding a paper cup, you know the fine line between grasping it tightly enough so it doesn’t slip, but not so tightly the cup is crushed.
These vital abilities, which unless you focus on them, are unconscious.
So, what if you’re are struggling with proprioception? Since it’s largely unconscious, can it be changed?
There really is a sixth sense: it’s called proprioception. It is the sense of position and movement. It is produced by nerves in our connective tissues (ligaments, bone, fascia) and our 300-or-so muscles.
Without proprioception, you couldn’t stand up (standing up is actually shockingly complicated). You couldn’t so much as scratch your nose, because you wouldn’t be able to find it.
Ask any pro athlete if proprioception can be improved and the answer will be a definite YES!
To make it easier to understand, think about three of the main ‘job descriptions’ of proprioception. For the athlete (and us), it makes it easier to analyze and address areas of concern.
A – agility. The ability to quickly control the speed and direction of movement.
B – balance. The ability to maintain equilibrium so one remains upright and steady.
C – coordination. The smoothness and/or harmonization of movement of one or more body parts.
When looked at it this way, it’s not only easier to decide what specific area needs to be addressed most urgently, it’s also easier to find activities that can strengthen that part of proprioception.
A quick search for exercises for agility, balance or coordination gives a wide variety of options. Something should catch your eye.
Or, if you’re looking for something right here and now, think about our Spooner boards and Batboards. Not only great for balance, but also for gentle, quiet, rocking movement when listening to someone teach or watching a screen.
We have very few left. According to the computer, 3 black batboards (scalloped at the tail end), 3 black spooner boards and 1 blue board. Regularly $49.99 but make us an offer. They aren’t going on our new website, so we want to sell them sooner than later. The more you buy, the better the offer we’ll entertain. Email us if interested. This is a great price. Check out Amazon.ca, if you don't believe me!
The spooner board also helps develops proprioceptive’s sister: the vestibular system.
Go here to see a real life review (a parent's review).
Have an alphabet/A-B-C week (an agile, balanced and coordinated week),
Websites that may be of interest to you.
https://www.physio-pedia.com/Muscle_spindles Basic info
https://study.com/academy/answer/where-are-proprioceptors-located.html Basic info
https://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physrev.00048.2011 Basic info
https://wtop.com/news/2018/04/proprioception-the-unsung-hero-of-the-senses/Proprioception and the athlete