Ever wonder how your body knows where it is positioned? Or how we are able to walk upstairs without looking down? Our body works in a unique way in such they are able to work in a complex system to ensure a human can feel how his body is positioned. This is called “Proprioception” or ” Kinesthetic Awareness in Space”.
It generally means “our sense of self” and it is the ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium. This allows us to sense where’s our limbs are positioned in space and react quickly to sudden changes in your environment and move about safely.
It may not be so important now but it may be soon one day. Regardless of whether you are a normal healthy person or a patient, or even a sportsman. As we age, our proprioception weakens because the transmission signals to our central nervous system become sluggish. As a result, we lose our balance, agility, and coordination. Hence, increase our risk of falling.
This section covers some part of reasons why such elements could benefit you regardless of whether you are a patient or just a person willing to improve his or her balance skills. In sports field, having a better proprioceptive ability can help you avoid injuries. Skating, skiing, running, playing basketball, gymnasts whichever sport you do, you change your body’s position, so proper balance is required to prevent falls and other things which may harm you.
Even if you don’t do sports, carrying out our daily normal complex tasks still involves moving. Driving and climbing, upstairs imply movement, and here is where proprioception matters too.
The mechanism of proprioception
The system involves a number of elements that work in a team compromising our brain, the stretch receptors, and vestibular system.
Terminology: The proprioceptors are the sense organs throughout the body. Not those classical receptors you used to hear to detect your temperature, pressure, light, sound etc.
- In our muscles, we have stretch receptors which relay information about force generation.
- Another proprioceptor type is the vestibular organs in the inner ears ( the vestibular system ) which tells the brain about rotation, acceleration, and position.
- Golgi tendon, on the other hand, is the tendons that attach muscles to bones. It provides the brain with information about muscle tension.
The initiation then begins with the activation of proprioceptors in the periphery and this sense of body position is perceived both at the conscious and unconscious levels.
The brain particularly the cerebellum then gets input from many of these spindles ( in muscles ) in order to register changes in angle and position and other information.
All these and more sensory inputs are integrated by the brain to give a person a kinesthetic sense – how parts of the body are moving.
The inputs are processed and depending on the state of muscle, commands are sent back to the muscle.
It’s more complicated than you think. But thanks to these elements we are able to live a normal life without risk of harming ourselves and also better at controlling in anything we do.
Can we lose our proprioceptive?
Yes, just like any of our other normal body functions we may lose our proprioceptive ability over a long period of time due to aging. Having a weak proprioceptive in aging, however, is totally normal. Seniors usually attend exercise programs that are suitable for them to improve and maintain their general health and proprioception.
They are more likely to prone to injuries like falling. Therefore, opting to exercises that could promote proprioceptive strength in seniors would really help them complete their daily tasks without risk of harming themselves. In fact in Malaysia, many of seniors have already begun to adapt this exercise a part of their morning routine. Exercise such as yoga, tai chi, dancing surprisingly have some components of proprioceptive. But be sure to get a medical clearance first with your respective doctors to prevent any injuries to occur.
Not all exercises are suitable and applicable to everyone. Best to keep it at optimum and not overdoing it. The key is to just build up some of those proprioceptive back and not bulking up muscles.
So besides going to your regular gym workouts, healthy eating, Zumba which focusses mainly on your general health and weight. Try opting exercises that also benefit your internal function. Some of these exercise besides for proprioceptive also helps you reduce the risk of having Alzheimer’s.
” Your body is never out of shape, it is always in a shape created by how you have moved up to this very moment”
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