Sense of Bodily Perception – Proprioception

October 5, 2017 | By | Reply

– Dr. Hitesha A. Makwana

Proprioception is the sense of knowing where your body part is in space. The proprioceptors are sensors that provide information about the angle of a joint, muscle length, and muscle tension. This gives the brain information about the position of the limb in space at any given time.

Proprioception capabilities can be impaired when the joints are injured, such as with ligament sprains. When you lose proprioception of your joint after a sprain, you may experience an unstable sensation of the joint. Your joint may even give out, i.e. the sense of perception of the body diminishes.

The most common symptom of reduced proprioception is poor balance. Every injury has the ability to diminish your proprioception and hence your balance.


This can be best explained with an example of a dancer.

Balance and proprioception is very important for dancers, especially when it requires spins or jumps, as it’s very easy for a dancer to miss a step and fall, possibly injuring oneself in the process. Hence, the modern approach of fitness training, especially for dancers, incorporates proprioceptive training program known as sensory-motor training.

Proprioception is also called the ‘sixth sense’, as it is the feeling of one’s dynamic alignment which also contributes to one’s artistic experience.

The eyes, the balance organs in the inner ear, and the reflexes of the muscles contribute to steadiness and balance, and therefore to the accuracy of our proprioception.

Proprioceptive training is directed to develop the proprioceptive sense, which is found in the muscles, joints and ligaments. We obtain information about our body and environment by sensing unexpected changes in the movements of the entire body, or some of its parts. Without this inner sense of timing and accuracy, the rate of injury would be a lot higher and, of course, simple movements would take up an enormous amount of cognitive energy.

Need of Proprioception Balance Exercises

Proprioceptive and balance exercises teach your body to control the position of a deficient or an injured joint. Proprioception exercises are designed to improve your proprioception feedback circle.
Where your brain sends electrical contract or relax messages to your muscle because of which joint movement response is detected and reported back to your brain for fine tuning and improvement with repetition of the process.

Because proprioceptive signals are essential for movement, the loss of its awareness may affect the control of muscle tone, disrupt reflexes and severely impair voluntary movement.
How can physiotherapy benefit you?

Physiotherapy can be beneficial for a decrease in proprioception in the following ways:

  • Helps to improve your sensation
  • Helps to maintain muscle strength
  • Helps to prevent muscle wasting
  • Reduces your risk of falling
  • Reduces your risk of injury around your home
  • Helps to maintain postural stability both sitting and standing
  • Provides you with advice and guidance on coping
  • Helps you gain confidence

Types of Proprioceptive Training Exercises

  1. Balancing Exercises
    Good exercises for proprioception development would be activities that challenge balance and equilibrium. Balance exercises help teach your body and brain to control the position of a deficient or an injured joint. A common example of a balance exercise that can help improve proprioception is the use of an unstable surface. Eg. Foam, Harbinger, and BOSU.


  2. Strengthening Exercises
    As you build strength in the muscles, the brain begins to understand the request of this strength. As strength builds up, it helps improve proprioception awareness with the mind and body and also allows you to continue/hold a movement or action in place far longer with proper form.
  3. Exercises While Eyes Are Closed
    As you become stronger, you can gain the ability to inform and trust your muscles to perform standing activities which also involves dynamics in later program with the eyes closed, i.e. you rely only on pure proprioceptive feedback where your visual input is been blocked. This enhances the communication between the brain and the muscles so that you are able to perform activities properly without watching the movement take place.
  4. Plyometric Movements and Drills
    Exercise involving coordination and movement patterns can greatly enhance bodily awareness. As you are asking the body to perform certain movements, it trains the brain to respond to these movements. Over time, it becomes easier to perform these exercises without much thought as a natural connection becomes a part of the routine. Eg. jumps, change of direction drills etc.

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