About Proprioception


The ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium. Even if a person is blindfolded, he or she knows through proprioception if an arm is above the head or hanging by the side of the body. The sense of proprioception is disturbed in many neurological disorders. It can sometimes be improved through the use of sensory integration therapy, a type of specialized occupational therapy.

Sensory Integration

A form of occupational therapy in which special exercises are used to strengthen the patient’s sense of touch (tactile), sense of balance (vestibular), and sense of where the body and its parts are in space (proprioceptive). It appears to be effective for helping patients with movement disorders or severe under- or over-sensitivity to sensory input.

The Righting Reflex

Also known as the Labyrinthine righting reflex, is a reflex that corrects the orientation of the body when it is taken out of its normal upright position. It is initiated by the vestibular system, which detects that the body is not erect and causes the head to move back into position as the rest of the body follows. The perception of head movement involves the body sensing linear acceleration or the force of gravity through the otoliths, and angular acceleration through the semicircular canals. The reflex uses a combination of visual system inputs, vestibular inputs, and somatosensory inputs to make postural adjustments when the body becomes displaced from its normal vertical position. These inputs are used to create what is called an efference copy. This means that the brain makes comparisons in the cerebellum between expected posture and perceived posture, and corrects for the difference.

Conscious and Unconscious Proprioception

In humans, a distinction is made between conscious proprioception and unconscious proprioception:

Proprioceptive exercise training program

This eight-week exercise program can help you guard against getting hurt and increasing your strength, balance, and agility.

In our last issue, we described in detail how proprioceptive training can improve your coordination and reduce your risk of injury during sporting activity. In this article, we provide you with a specific, simple-to-carry-out, eight-week exercise program which will upgrade your strength, balance, and agility and reduce your chances of getting hurt at the same time. The program incorporates both proprioceptive and sport-specific (functional) exercises, and it can be blended very easily with your current training.

excerpt from: Sports Injury Bulletin, Owen Anderson