How good is your balance? Can you run without watching your feet? What about finding the light switch in the dark? Can you touch your finger to your nose with your eyes closed? The ability to perform these movements relies on the body’s balance and proprioception.
What is Proprioception?
Proprioception refers to the body’s ability to sense movement within joints and joint position. This ability enables us to know where our limbs are in space without having to look. It is important in all daily activities, during growth as kids, in sports and later in life when balance and coordination become more of an issue. Normal functioning of the proprioceptive system results in smooth and coordinated movements. There are specific tests that your chiropractor can perform to assess balance and proprioception. By using these tests we can continually reassess your improvement as treatment progresses.
What is the Proprioceptive System?
The proprioceptive system is made up of receptor nerves that are found in the muscles, joints and ligaments around joints. These nerves can sense tension and stretch and pass this information to the brain where it is processed. The brain then responds by signaling to muscles to contract or relax in order to produce the desired movement.
This system is subconscious, and we don’t have to think about the movements. Sometimes the reactions take place so fast they are termed reflexive, like when you touch something hot and jump away.
Following injury to joints and ligaments the receptors can be damaged, which means the information that is usually sent to the brain is impaired. As a consequence the joint doesn’t function correctly and doesn’t feel quite right. This creates poor motor control of the area, which can lead to further dysfunction or injury.
What are the benefits?
A well functioning proprioceptive system allows people to perform at their best and be less likely to sustain injuries. Once a joint has been damaged, or a ligament has been torn the proprioceptive system will not be functioning at its best. This can happen with sudden injuries or from repetitive strain injuries.
Once the proprioceptive system is working poorly people are more prone to re-injury, or decrease their coordination during sport. Balance and proprioception are big issues for the elderly, often trips and falls lead to further problems and can cause life-threatening fractures.
By increasing proprioceptive feedback to the brain, your body is likely to recover faster from any falls. Fortunately, proprioceptive ability can be trained through specific exercises and chiropractic adjustments. Proprioception also helps speed up an athlete’s return to competition following injury. The exercises should be initiated as soon as possible following injury.
Proprioceptive training will be different for everyone depending on your baseline of balance and coordination. This type of training incorporates various balance exercises and devices such as wobble boards, giant exercise balls, and small trampolines at higher levels, while simply balancing on one leg for easier levels. The aim is to challenge the joints of the body and have the body react to the changing activity as quickly as possible. The faster the response time to any particular movement means the body balance and proprioceptive system is working better.
If you have any questions regarding your proprioceptive system or wanting to improve your balance, please feel free to contact us at Neurohealth Chiropractic.
If you would like more information or would like to book an appointment at Neurohealth Chiropractic – please call the clinic on 9905 9099 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the contact form from our website www.neurohealthchiro.com.au