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How to Improve Balance and Proprioception
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Jun 16, 2016
After posting a clip of a simple game that can be used to improve joint position sense and balance, I received a number of messages from readers asking for ways to work on proprioception when one doesn't have a partner to work with.
It's important to note that any activity that requires that you maintain your balance - be it while on your feet, hands, pelvis, or a combination thereof - will develop your joint position sense, thereby strengthening your immunity against slips and falls.
Put another way, as you sit, stand, and move, you are exercising your proprioceptive powers. Whatever you do, proprioceptors - specialized sensory receptors located in and around your joints - constantly send feedback to your brain about your relationship to the ground beneath you, and your central and peripheral nervous systems constantly fine-tune their motor output to prevent you from falling.
The harder you have to work to maintain your balance, the stronger your proprioception becomes.
When looking to strengthen proprioception while on your own, you can challenge yourself to stand and maintain your balance on one foot for 5 seconds at a time while remaining as still as possible. Try your dominant foot first, then the other side. Try the same thing with your eyes closed - with less overall sensory input to work with, proprioception takes center stage within your nervous system. Try all of the above for longer hold times - 10 seconds, 20 seconds, and so on.
If you are comfortable being on your hands and knees, try some or all of the positions and movements shown in the following video on core-strengthening exercises:
Such poses and movements are excellent for improving and maintaining proprioception.
When going for a walk, try coming to sudden stops that have you freeze in a position and maintain your balance for 10 seconds, much like kids do when they play freeze tag. Unexpected requests that are put upon your body to maintain balance in positions that you don't normally assume is a highly effective way of strengthening neural pathways that govern proprioception.
While enjoying a hike or stroll through a forest with loved ones, you can inject some giggles into your outing by taking turns saying freeze, and striving to be the last one to lose balance. Play up to 10 with the winner getting to choose what's for dinner.
If you're interested in learning more about the science behind improving balance and proprioception, you can start by googling myelin sheath talent code. Whether you get into the cellular side of this or not, the bottom line is this: to stay as healthy and fit as possible to enjoy the miracle of being on this planet, you want to regularly engage in activities that challenge your body to move and maintain its balance on varying terrain and in positions that you aren't accustomed to.
If you have questions on this or any other health topic, please feel free to e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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