What Is Proprioception? Why Is It Important?


Many of the conditions we see at K.M. Woods Physiotherapy, Glasgow, incorporate some degree of proprioceptive deficit.

Proprioception is an awareness of where our body is in space. Receptors in our joints and muscles give us feedback, so that without looking we know that for example one foot is moving in front of the other. Often this awareness is subconscious but can give us a lot of information including how fast a limb might be moving, what angle it is flexed at and where our centre of gravity is. Our body can use this information to react quickly and maintain balance, preventing injury in sport as well as everyday life.

Why is proprioception important?

When injury occurs, we can also injure the proprioceptive system. The most common example is a sprained ankle; months following the injury there may no longer be any pain and the ankle may appear to be strong, but frequently we will sprain the same ankle due to weakened proprioceptive feedback.

How can I improve my proprioceptive feedback?

Like muscles we can strengthen the proprioceptive system by challenging your balance and encouraging development of more receptors and nerves. It is important to do this safely and your physiotherapist can guide you.

Typical exercises for proprioceptive training of a sprained ankle:

Level 1 – Stand on the affected leg and balance for 30 seconds. Progress by closing eyes if this is easy

Level 2 – Stand on a cushion/wobble board on the affected leg for 30sec

Level 3 – You could also try multi-tasking by trying to balance while throwing and catching a ball

Other proprioceptive exercises

Think about the sport or activity you want to return to and create specific exercises typical of the movements you need for that sport. Proprioceptive training is not just for the legs, you can also weight bear on your arms and use a BOSU ball for balance training.

Typical drills may include:

  • Side stepping or grapevine activities
  • Lunging
  • Skaters
  • Quick sprints with changes in direction
  • Push ups from BOSU ball (more upper limb/shoulder focused)
  • Crab walk in press-up position

Call 01413530906 today to enquire further regarding how our skilled physiotherapy staff can help your aches and pains. Much physiotherapy treatment will include proprioceptive rehabilitation at the end stage, as a high level functional challenge to physical function.  Physio appointments available at our four clinical sites; Glasgow West End (G3), Clarkston (G76), Newton Mearns (G77), & Kirkintilloch (G66).