Proprioception The 6th Sense
In school most of us learned there were five senses. Sight, sound, taste, touch and smell are the five senses I learned. While those are all very important senses science has proved their to actually be several more senses such as thermoception, the ability to sense temperature, nociception, the ability to sense pain, and even chemoreceptors, that sense chemicals in the blood. While it is now recognized that humans have over 20 separate senses one of our most important “extra senses” is proprioception.
Proprioception what is it?
Proprioception gives you the ability to tell where your body parts are, relative to other body parts. This sense is one of the things police officers test when they pull over someone who they think is driving drunk. The “close your eyes and touch your nose” test is testing this sense. This sense is used all the time in little ways, such as when you scratch an itch on your foot, but never once look at your foot to see where your hand is relative to your foot. You’re able to run on the beach because proprioceptors are continuously sending signals to your brain about the changing shape of the uneven surface of the sand.
Without this specialized sense we would be extremely clumsy and injuring ourselves all the time. Imagine walking down a street and stubbing your toe on a crack in the street. Now regardless this is going to be uncomfortable but a person with well trained proprioceptive senses will likely collect their balance and stop themselves before the fall to the ground and potentially further injure themselves. Now a person with poor proprioceptive sense could easily badly turn their ankle and come crashing down to the ground. See proprioception is often the difference between an injury and a non injury in these unexpected situations that arrive. You may notice that elderly seem to be more clumsy and likely to injure themselves. This is because proprioception will diminish with age if not consistently trained. Alcohol also significantly diminishes proprioception and thus why people who are drunk again are more clumsy and likely to injure themselves.
Training our Proprioception
It is important that we continue to challenge our proprioception and train it. Some of the best ways to train our proprioception is with balance exercises. Using Bosu balls, wobble boards, or stability trainers. We can incorporate a lot of our exercises we already do with these tools such as squats, curls, presses, pushups and many more. Add these tools into the gym to insure your proprioception is strong and decrease your likelyhood of injury.