How to understand, test and maintain your proprioception!

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Just what is proprioception?

Without proprioception, you couldn’t take your next step without consciously thinking about how you will make it happen.

You wouldn’t be able to distinguish between the grass on the soles of your feet and a cement path.

And you couldn’t walk a straight line.

Proprioception is your brains ability to take information from vestibular organs in the inner ear, visual information from the eyes and receptors on our muscles, skin and joints to sense movement, location and action. 

It is a sense that we assume.  We take it for granted.  In fact, most of us are not even aware that we have it!

If you are an athlete having good proprioception will enhance your performance.

Good proprioception also helps us to maintain posture, exercise, balance and stabilise our bodies to avoid injury and falls, especially as we get older.

And, importantly it is a sense that we must develop for the health of our brains, to focus, and even our speech.

What to know more?  Let’s explore how you can better understand, test and maintain good proprioception.


Transfer of information to sense movement, location and action...

How the body senses proprioception:

Training your proprioception

Many of the day-to-day activities and tasks we execute require us to have trained our proprioception.

Think about touch typing, driving a car, an artist being able to put the paint onto the canvas, hiking through the mountains and not needing to watch the ground as you navigate the terrain, or even just walking down the street and stepping up the curb.

This is all because of proprioception.

We can train and sharpen our proprioceptive sense by practising different disciplines, including Pilates, yoga, Chi Gung and even juggling!

It has been proven that by regular maintenance, we can hone this sense to maintain and improve our reaction time, spacial location, the efficiency of our movement and our balance, especially as we age.

Test your proprioceptive function with balance:

The Romberg's test is often used to assess balance. Stand with your feet together and your eyes closed without support for 30 seconds. If you lose balance and falls, it is an indicator for impaired proprioception.

Assessment for impaired proprioception

If you are concerned that you may have a proprioception disorder you should contact your doctor, physical therapist or healthcare worker to have an assessment.

Reasons you may be concerned could include:

  • balance issues
  • not being able to walk in a straight line
  • dropping or bumping into things
  • poor posture control – having to lean or hold onto things to stay upright
  • trouble recognising your own strength
  • avoiding activities or movements due to fear of falling

The practitioner will discuss your medical history and may perform one of the following tests:

  • Romberg test (as above)
  • Field sobriety test – For example touching your nose with each of your index fingers with your eyes closes or walking in a straight line.
  • Thumb finding test
  • Sequential finger touching
  • Distal proprioception test

Following this, they may ask for more diagnostic tests to rule out underlying medical conditions or injury.

Practice your proprioception!

Join Director Natalia Laing for a 6 minute proprioception practice session!

What may cause impaired proprioception?

Impaired proprioception can be due to:


  • joint injuries, such as an ankle sprain or knee sprain
  • joint replacement surgery, such as hip replacement or knee replacement

More serious conditions include:

  • brain injuries
  • herniated disc
  • arthritis
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • stroke
  • autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • diabetes
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or Lou Gehrig’s disease

Temporary issues that can include:

  • migraine auras
  • being affected by alcohol or drugs
  • rapid fluctuations in weight
  • being tired

They can be categorised in the following:

  • neurological (brain)
  • muscular
  • sensory
  • degenerative

Impairment can be permanent, long term or temporary.

Benefits of good proprioception

If you need more motivation and incentives to train and exercise your proprioception regularly, you might also consider that this sense contributes to the following important factors in your life:

  • precise and coordinated movement
  • maintaining balance
  • controlling body posture
  • athletic and exercise performance
  • reducing the risk of injury and falls
  • ability to focus
  • speech
  • ageing with confidence and mobility
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