By Free Motion Physiotherapy

What is Proprioception & Why is it Important?

Proprioception is our body’s ability to sense and freely move within our external environment, without consciously thinking about it. Good proprioception is very important to the brain, as it plays a large role in self- regulation, co-ordination, balance, posture, body awareness and the ability to focus. It is the sense that lets us know where our different body parts are, how they move and how much strength our muscles need to use to accomplish a certain task. This body awareness is therefore important for day-to-day living and vital for sports performance.

The main purpose of our proprioceptors is to prevent injury and falls by increasing spatial awareness and balance. We receive proprioceptive input from specialized sensory receptors located on nerve endings in your muscles, tendons, joints, skin, and inner ear. These sensors deliver information relating to any deviations or changes in movement, position, tension, force, and environment to your brain.

If you can tell the difference between grass and cement on the bottom of your feet or notice as a bag gradually becomes heavier as you fill it with apples, you’ve experienced proprioception. You will experience proprioception if you go hiking on an offroad path and detect small changes, such as holes, bumps, or rocks, in the path. To prevent injury, your body will adjust, stabilizing your foot and ankle in response to the feedback picked up by your lower limb proprioceptors.

Our proprioceptive ability can be negatively affected by injury, age or disease and make simple daily tasks more difficult as well as increase the risk of injury or falls.