Proprioceptive Senses signal Body Shape, Body Position, Movement, and Muscle Force
I often say, “Motion is Life.” In order to move our many proprioceptive senses must each accurately inform us of the position and movement we are making. One sense of proprioception is that of effort – an instinctive knowing that it will take more effort to hang onto a cliff, than kick a ball a few yards. The sense of force and the sense of heaviness are proprioceptive. I’ve noticed it takes less force to hit a ping-pong ball (light) than a golf ball (heavier). The proprioceptive senses of force and heaviness are especially visible in Hockey and Football – where excessive force damages proprioception to body (sports injuries) and brain (concussions).
Before I explore the topic of Proprioception with you further I’d like to give you a little background about myself and my keen interest in Proprioception. A subject that lies at the boundary between neurophysiology and neuropsychology.
It wasn’t until I arrived back in Sherman Oaks, where I grew up, that I was introduced to Proprioception. I was cutting my teeth at Universal City Medical Center. An MD/DDC practice headed by the magnanimous Dr. Arlo Gordon, DC. A senior veteran of Chiropractic as an art, philosophy, science and business. Dr. Gordin led and we associate doctors admiringly followed. The Zindler technique we used to treat the 360-400 weekly visitors is the only proprioceptive based technique I’m aware of. And it worked astonishingly well on just about every condition we were asked to fix.
When proprioception is working we are able to make corrections when we move – stumbling, but not falling. Our body awareness and ability to navigate through space and perform body related tasks is governed by our sensory proprioceptive system. Proprioception is said to consist of several senses: sense of tension, sense of effort, sense of balance, sense of movement, sense of position, and sense of heaviness. For example we engage the sense of effort when holding the weight of a limb against the force of gravity. Your would be using your sense of proprioceptive movement to tell me where I am moving your arm when you have your eyes closed. Our sense of position is used to reproduce a particular joint position in say throwing activities.
It is our proprioceptive senses that enable us to adjust how much effort and force we’ll need to toss different weighted objects to the same target. We make immediate adjustments and seem to ‘know’ – proprioceive – what we need to do to toss a ping-pong ball, a tennis ball, a basketball or a bowling ball to a wall 6 feet away from us.
When proprioception isn’t working – say due to a motor vehicle collision – you may find yourself reaching to turn on a light switch and miss. PPC is linked to accuracy of your movements and when damaged you poor coffee yet miss the cup. Go to pick up your keys and miss judge where they are – though you quickly compensate with a general sweep until the sense of touch helps you define where they really are.
As you can see, Proprioception is intimately intertwined with vision. They are both interpretation systems that helps us coordinate physical interactions with our environment. All target related tasks are accomplished by Proprioceptive / Visual symmetry. Archery, Precision target shooting, Baseball, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Golf are target tasks that require optimum visual and proprioceptive function.
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