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The Fitness Zone

THE POWER OF PROPRIOCEPTION
June 26, 2018 | by

By: Chris Apps, Australian Institute of Fitness QLD Massage Coach.

Try this experiment.  Close your eyes and try to touch your index fingers above your head, I’ll wait.

How did you go?  Did fingertip touch fingertip or did you miss?  This is proprioception in a nutshell:  your body knowing where it is in space.  When you move, sensory nerves tell your brain what is moving and where it’s moving.  While this is happening, motor nerves are creating the movement and adjusting depending on where you are at with your movement.  This is happening all the time, constantly.

Think of how hard it would be to walk if you didn’t know where your feet were….

My Personal Experience

Many years ago, I was told that I had an anterior tilt in my pelvis, which basically means the front of my pelvis is lower than the back, which can also cause more curvature in the lower back, which is bad, or can be.

The typical remedy for this, that a Personal Trainer will prescribe, is stretching and strengthening certain muscles and muscle groups.  While this will definitely help, I didn’t do this as I was too inconsistent and I don’t like wasting a lot of time stretching!

Instead, I constantly thought about my posture, specifically my pelvis, and was always focusing on staying neutral when standing, walking or performing other tasks.  And now it’s neutral and I have better awareness of my body!

Common Conditions

Here are a few examples of common postural dysfunctions and how you can remedy them.

  • Pelvic Tilt
    I mentioned anterior tilt above, but you can also have posterior or lateral tilt (left higher than right for example), however anterior is usually more common.


Remedy:  Maintain a neutral pelvis as often as you can.

  • Rounded/Forward Shoulders
    Stop where you are right now and look around. If there are other people around, see if anyone looks like the picture on the right.  This is another common condition where we fall into a bad posture, and a lot of people just can’t sense (proprioception) that they are in a bad position.

Remedy:  Shoulders back and down, palms facing forward.
  • Poke Neck
    This is also illustrated in the photo above where the head ‘pokes’ forward.  We do this all the time, in the car, at work in the office, and lying in bed on your back when you have too many pillows under your head.  Double chin, it’s not pleasant so maybe do it when people aren’t around if you’re worried about what they’ll think!
Remedy:  Double chin, it’s not pleasant so maybe do it when people aren’t around if you’re worried about what they’ll think!
  • Rotated Feet
    Go for a walk and look at your feet, where do your toes point?  Forward?  Or do they point out or in?  They may even be different to one another.  A lot of people walk like a duck and even some like a pigeon.  Good news, it’s easy to fix!  Unless you have an injury or genetic defect.

Remedy:  Point your toes forward when you walk.  This was another issue I had which I corrected by just thinking about it.

Mind Over Matter

A lot of people underestimate the power of their mind and what it can do.  Here are some simple steps to take control:

1.  Know what the problem is (see a physio, osteo, chiro or GP for an assessment - it can be FREE)

2.  Learn and FEEL what is correct and neutral

3.  Use your grey matter to constantly stay in that correct position

Easy!

About

Chris is a Massage Coach at The Australian Institute of Fitness Brisbane

This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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