F & F: Proprioception
All year I have been taking common misconceptions in the training world and trying to add some sort of rational reason and explanation. One of the bigger misconceptions out there is proprioception exercises.
There are some trainers out there that believe that some movements like hanging by elastic cords, or hanging upside down and doing movements like crunches, or doing a Turkish Get Up with a kettle bell (search it on YouTube) works out your proprioception. Unfortunately, this is not true. The term proprioception means:
“perception governed by proprioceptors, as awareness of the position of one’s body”
So, doing something like the above-mentioned movements does work proprioception however, if you don’t know where your body is in space then you are going to have a very bad day if you try a Turkish Get Up with a 8kg kettlebell.
Can you train proprioception?
Absolutely, physiotherapists do this daily. They try to get the patient to walk, this simple movement that we all take for granted forces us to understand if we can understand our legs moving and how to fire properly and get the proper firing patterns for the patient to move without any pain and eventually get the patient strong enough to keep walking. Now do they understand that they are trying to get the whole chain up and running? Probably. I’d like to think that there are some really smart physiotherapists out there.
Can you train proprioception outside a physio session?
Again, the answer is yes. You must understand that unless we some form nerve damage that we cannot understand a limb in space then we are always using our proprioceptors. When we are sitting on the couch we are aware of our bodies and what it is doing, when we are at work, or sitting in the car/bus, or walking around on lunch, we are always using our proprioceptors to understand what our bodies doing in time and space.
Can you train proprioception in the gym?
Once again, the answer is yes. Just pick up a weight or sit in a machine or jump on the treadmill and you are aware of the dumbbell in your hand, or you are pushing/pulling the machine handle, or the speed of the treadmill and adjust your speed accordingly so you don’t fly off the treadmill.
So, you see hanging upside down and doing a movement, or hanging by elastic bands, or doing weird movements with kettlebells does work proprioception however, just grabbing a dumbbell or simple flexing at home also does the exact same thing and you don’t look like a monkey at the gym.