07 Feb A Q&A on Proprioception: Your Body’s Sixth Sense
The concept of proprioception isn’t familiar to everyone, but it’s essential to our health and safety. Proprioception (“proprio” meaning “self”) is your body’s sense of its position in space. We take note of our patients’ proprioception at Eastern Oklahoma Chiropractic because of the key role it plays in balance, coordination, and overall movement.
Here are answers to some common questions about this important sense.
How Does Proprioception Work?
Proprioception is often called the body’s sixth sense—but unlike your senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, proprioception works without your awareness.
You don’t have to think consciously about how you walk without looking at your feet, kick a ball, or adapt to the heaviness of a box you’re lifting. Your sense of proprioception handles it for you, helping your body adjust to changes in your environment.
Your body has nerve receptors in places like joints, muscles, inner ear, and skin. These receptors help your body parts and your senses to coordinate, sending signals to your brain about their activity. Your brain processes that information, along with input from your vision and vestibular system (for balance), enabling you to move in a coordinated way.
Can People Lose Proprioceptive Abilities?
Yes. Aging is one common reason, putting people at higher risk of falls as their balance and body position awareness deteriorate.
Alcohol use, injuries, illness, and brain conditions can also weaken proprioception. Causes include:
- Injuries to the brain or joints
- Herniated discs
- Diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Knee or hip replacement
- Herniated discs
What Are the Symptoms of Proprioception Problems?
One simple way to check your proprioception is called the Romberg test. Stand with feet together and eyes closed for 30 seconds. Losing your balance during that time can indicate a proprioception issue.
Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty walking in a straight line
- Poor balance and frequent falls
- Using too much or too little force when doing activities such as writing or grasping an object
- Poor posture
- Clumsiness or lack of coordination
If you suspect you have a condition affecting your proprioception, get evaluated and learn about your treatment options.
Can I Improve My Proprioception?
Yes–you can certainly boost your proprioceptive capability, reducing your chance of injuries and improving sports performance, coordination, and overall quality of life.
Whatever your goals, here are some activities that improve proprioceptive abilities:
- Exercises can strengthen your core and improve balance, movement and spatial awareness.
- Tai chi and yoga improve strength and balance.
- Practicing a sport regularly increases coordination.
- Chiropractic maintenance promotes good musculoskeletal alignment and nervous system performance.
What Are Some Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Proprioception?
Chiropractic treatments can help in several ways, such as:
Optimizing your nervous system’s performance by repairing spinal misalignments so your proprioceptive receptors have a clear pathway to your brain.
Improving range of motion. A good range of motion gives your brain effective input about your body’s positions and movements.
Every family member, from young kids to seniors, can benefit from boosting their proprioception.
Book Your Complimentary Consultation at Eastern Oklahoma Chiropractic
Call our Broken Arrow office today at 918-940-4630 to begin maximizing your health potential!