Proprioception means sense of self. Usually when we use the term proprioception we discuss injury prevention and muscle performance. Proprioception can be simply described as the awareness of body position. The information about joint movement, muscle force and length is provided by small structures called propriceptors, that are found in muscles, ligaments and tendons.
People have varying degrees of proprioception awareness. A professional athlete has a high degree of proprioception awareness, but you may know someone who is accident prone — and this could mean that their proprioception awareness is not as developed as it could be. While one’s proprioception may not mirror a professional athlete’s, working on your proprioceptive skills will make a difference in your day-to-day activities.
How we train the proprioceptive skills?
Proprioceptive training involves different balancing activities, jumps and cutting maneuvers designed to evoke rapid changes in movement of the hip, knee or anckle joint. The intention is to place stress on the joint by simulating “unwanted” movements. When the proprioceptors identify an unwanted movement, they send the signal to the spinal cord and cause the muscle to contract or relax. This is what we call a proprioceptive reflex.
Because this whole process happens subconsciously and automatically, it allows the athlete to react to the wobbly movements without having to think about them. During the game this results in the player’s ability to automatically stay balanced while jumping, changing directions or passing and kicking the ball.