Accessibility View Close toolbar

Proprioception - Making Your Body Smarter

We usually don't think of our bodies in terms of their being "smart." For example, we walk to the corner store without giving a single thought to the complex mechanics involved in getting there and back. But behind the scenes there's plenty going on and your body's "IQ" has a lot to do with your success in accomplishing everyday tasks.
Proprioception is one of those background physical processes that make up your body's total IQ. Proprioceptors are specialized nerve endings located in your muscles and joints that inform your brain about your body's position in three-dimensional space. You're able to write legibly because proprioceptors are sending instantaneous data about the angles of the small joints of your fingers and wrists as your pen moves across the page. You're able to run on the beach because proprioceptors are continuously sending signals to your brain about the changing shape of the uneven surface of the sand.1
Without these specialized nerve endings, we'd never be able to hit a baseball, throw a Frisbee, or drive a car. But proprioceptors can be smart or less than that. It all depends on how well-trained they are. One person out for a stroll might trip over a crack in the pavement and suffer a badly sprained ankle. Another person might trip over the same crack, even badly turning over their ankle in the process, and keep on walking without even a trace of a limp.
The difference between injury and non-injury is the level of proprioceptor training, and this level usually is related to whether you're doing regular exercise.2 Exercise trains your muscles and joints to adapt to varying kinds of stresses (weight-bearing loads) throughout a variety of positions (the full range of motion of those joints). As a result, trained proprioceptors can withstand a high degree of stress (such as a sudden twisting of an ankle). The untrained ankle, possibly the ankle of a person who hasn't done much walking, running, or bike riding in the last 5 years, will be damaged by an unusual and unexpected stress. The result is an ankle sprain of varying severity and possibly a broken ankle.
Similarly, it is well known that older adults experience more frequent falls than do younger adults. Part of the explanation involves proprioception.3 Many older adults don't engage in regular exercise. Proprioceptive function decreases, changes in level or surface aren't recognized quickly by the person's feet and ankles, and the person falls.
It's easy to see that the effort to maintain your body's IQ is time very well spent. The fastest way to boost this skill set is by doing regular exercise. All kinds of exercise provide benefit, so the best exercises are the ones that have some interest for you personally. Optimally, a person is doing both strength training and cardiovascular exercise. As always, the key to long-term health and wellness is consistency.
1Wong JD, et al: Can proprioceptive training improve motor learning? J Neurophysiol 2012 Sep 12 [Epub ahead of print]
2Ferreira ML, et al: Physical activity improves strength, balance and endurance in adults aged 40-65 years: a systematic review. J Physiother 58(3):145-156, 2012
3Howe TE, et al: Exercise for improving balance in older people. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011 Nov 9(11):CD004963.

Exclusive Offer

New Patients Receive a Free Consultation

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Asheville Office

Monday:

7:30am - 12:00pm

2:00pm - 5:00pm

Tuesday:

Closed

2:00pm - 5:00pm

Wednesday:

7:30am - 12:00pm

2:00pm - 5:00pm

Thursday:

7:30am - 12:00pm

2:00pm - 5:00pm

Friday:

Closed

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonial

  • "Dr. Kordonowy went above & beyond his chiropractor duties today at my appointment when my son got sick while we were there. Dr. Kordonowy took care of both of us, especially my son, helped clean us up and he was so nice about the whole incident! I have been going to him since I was in high school & he is hands down the best around!!"
    Katy H. / Asheville, NC

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • The 5 Senses

    The 5 Senses The five senses, that is, the sense of sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell, provide us with necessary information regarding the world around us.1 These precious capabilities enable us to navigate our environment with seemingly instantaneous feedback with reference to our actions and ...

    Read More
  • The Benefits of Sleep for Adults

    Obtaining sufficient restful sleep is an essential requirement for optimal human productivity. Such a practice is a key component of a healthy lifestyle, which includes a nutritious diet, regular vigorous exercise, and a positive mental attitude. How much sleep one needs varies from person to person. ...

    Read More
  • Back to School and Mental Wellness

    Summer is a subjectively fleeting season and school days are upon us once again. For children, this bittersweet time marks the completion of a period of relative freedom and the beginning of a new set of responsibilities. For adults, the onset of late summer and early fall signals yet another turn of ...

    Read More
  • Repetitive Motion Injuries

    A repetitive motion injury (or overuse injury) involves doing an action over and over again, as with a baseball pitcher throwing a baseball, a tennis player hitting a tennis ball, typing at a computer keyboard, and most notoriously, typing with your thumbs on the tiny keypad of your phone. It may be ...

    Read More
  • Left-Handers Day

    Left-Handers Day Left-Handers Day, celebrated on August 15th, was launched in 1992 by the Left-Handers Club, an organization based in the United Kingdom. Since then, Left-Handers Day has become a worldwide event and social media phenomenon. Around the world, approximately one in ten persons is left-handed. ...

    Read More
  • Peak Experiences

    Peak Experiences The American philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau roamed far and wide over the hills and mountains of his native Massachusetts and neighboring New Hampshire. In his masterwork, "Walden," Thoreau famously stated that we must "reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical ...

    Read More
  • Dynamic Warm-ups

    In a common occurrence, you bend over to pick up the pencil you inadvertently dropped on the floor. Or you bend over to pick up the soap bar that has slipped through your fingers in the shower. Or you bend over to lift a bag of groceries out of your automobile trunk. These are all daily events. But on ...

    Read More
  • Summer Sports

    Summer Sports In the summertime, everyone's thoughts turn to the outdoors. We want to get out in the sun and have some fun. Some people do exercise outdoors, such as running, walking, and biking, all year long regardless of the weather.1 For others, summer's warmer temperatures make activity outside ...

    Read More
  • Wellness Gardens

    Wellness Gardens When time is spent in an office or indoors day in and day out, some can lose that connection to the outside world. And that loss of connection can lead to higher stress levels and more health ailments without even realizing it. But when that the gap between office life and outdoor life ...

    Read More
  • Smart Shoulders

    Our shoulder joints have the greatest range of motion of any of the musculoskeletal joints in our bodies. The shoulder joint is really two joints, the glenohumeral joint between the arm bone (humerus) and the shoulder blade (scapula) and the acromioclavicular joint between the acromion (a bony projection off the scapula) and the collarbone (clavicle). The glenohumeral joint is a ball-and-socket joint and the acromioclavicular joint is a gliding joint. ...

    Read More

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Sign up for more articles