Proprioception exercises have a variety of uses. They are beneficial to a wide variety of people. The exercises can increase athlete’s agility and their body’s sensitivity to balance.
The elderly can use these exercises to improve their balance and mobility. People who are clumsy can also use these exercises. It helps improve their self-awareness and balance. These exercises are often used in physical therapy treatment. Used to help retrain the body to adopt a sense of self. And to compensate for the weaker or recovering muscles being treated. There are a variety of exercises that can benefit almost anyone.
Proprioception exercises are focused on balance and maintaining equilibrium. Activities that challenge these aspects are great for improving proprioception. These exercises are also great for retraining injured or damaged joints and muscles. It teaches the muscles how to adapt as they heal. These exercises use balance boards and other types of shifting or uneven surfaces. You may need to start by holding the wall to keep your balance. As your muscles and senses adapt to how to keep your body balanced, you’ll need to use the wall less and less.
Exercising With Your Eyes Closed
You can start closing your eyes while exercising. Once you get stronger and more acclimated to regulating your body’s natural balance. This further heightens your sense of balance. It requires you to rely solely on your proprioception and proprioception exercises. You don’t have a visual reference and only your tactile senses. This also further enhances the communication between your brain and muscles.
Doing strength exercises helps improve the brain’s recognition. To know when to increase muscle tension or when more strength is needed in keeping balance. For example, the tightening of calf muscles to post out and stabilize your body if you sway too far to one side. These exercises include squats, lunges, side steps, leg presses, and lateral movements. Build strength with these exercises and use proper form. This further strengthens the muscle’s ability to hold and regulate the position without giving out. But also the brain’s recognition for when this added strength is needed.
Plyometric Movements and Drills
These exercises involve movement patterns and changes in direction. These exercises include vertical jumps, running figure 8s, crossover walking, and footwork drills. These drills help establish and strengthen connections between muscles and nerves. They demand the mind to react to constant changes in direction and balance. These drills become easier over time. As they become integrated into the body’s natural response.
Proprioception Exercises for a Training Routine
1. Table Top
- Using a mat to protect your knees, get on all fours on the floor in a tabletop position.
- Make sure the back is flat and the neck is aligned with the spine.
- While looking at the floor, raise and extend your right arm and your left leg at the same time.
- Keep a tight core.
- Hold for 3–5 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Do 10 reps on each side.
Advanced: Hold for 20 seconds with eyes closed. Really focus on a tight core and perfect balance keeping the arm and leg parallel to the floor.
2. Single Leg
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart.
- Raise your right knee to a 90-degree angle and hold for 3–5 seconds.
- Return foot to the floor and repeat 5 times on each leg.
- You may need to hold onto the wall or a chair at first.
- Work towards not needing extra support.
Perform this exercise with eyes closed, no support and holding for 10 seconds, 10 times on each leg.
3. Crossover Walk
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart.
- Begin walking to your right crossing your left leg over the right, then back to starting position.
- Continue stepping sideways in a constant motion for about 15 yards.
- Repeat in the other direction, 5 times each direction.
The advanced option is the same but much faster. Use a high knee raise as you cross over the leg. Twisting the hips back and forth while moving and crossing over in the same direction. Repeat in the other direction for 25 yards, 5–10 times each side.
4. Squat Jump
- Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor by pushing hips back.
- Keep back flat and head facing forward.
- Weight on heels rather than the balls of your feet.
- Immediately explode upwards, reaching as high as you can with your hands as your feet leave the floor.
- Land in the same position you started in.
- Swing your arms back and jump again right away.
- Repeat 5–10 times on each side.
It is always important to seek expert training support whenever possible. Work with a fitness professional or physical therapist with these types of exercises. They will be able to individualize a program for your specific needs. When you are an elderly person wanting to gain a better sense of balance and basic day-to-day functions. Or an athlete wanting to enhance performance and prevent injuries.
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