We live in a visual world. But sometimes we have to operate without seeing obstacles in our way. Have you ever made it back to bed in the dark after getting up in the middle of the night?
Whether you knew it or not, you used proprioception. The sense of self. And, if you want to get stronger and maximize your workouts, proprioception training can help.
Proprioception: the Sense of Self
When you raise your arm over your head and walk toward a doorway, you know if you are going to make it through or not. Without seeing your fingers, you know where they are and how close you are coming to smashing into the wall. So, you pull them down before injury occurs. We call this movement instinctive, but self-preservation is only part of the story.
What let you know you were in danger is called proprioception, and it also told you when your hand was in the clear. Harnessing this ability is what makes dancers perform elaborate routines without falling and gymnasts flip and twist their way to gold medals. Now, you can use the same performance enhancing techniques to gain strength and achieve better balance in your workout routine.
How Proprioception Training Increases Strength
Your sense of self relies on a network of transmitters in your bones, tendons, and muscles to transmit information to your brain. This allows you to perform the most efficient motion with the right amount of speed and power to get the job done. If something damages the network, the process does not work correctly, and your strength is limited.
Proprioception training teaches you to overcome bad transmitters and ultimately repair the network. A fully functioning system gives you the ability to move with the most impact and translates to greater strength in your everyday life. For this reason, it is a great addition to off-season workout programs when your focus shifts to recovery.
Incorporating Proprioception Training into Your Regular Routine
Quality proprioception training enhances your balance, core muscle groups, and stabilizers. Adding daily balance exercises to your program is a good start. For the more advanced, performing power building exercises with your eyes closed will lead to a better transmitter connection over time. Just make sure you are completely comfortable with the technique before trying anything blindly.
Complex and compound exercises challenge the proprioceptive system by forcing your body to understand a variety of motions and constantly seek the most efficient use of energy. Plyometrics work great for this.Try a low box jump with your eyes closed and you will get the picture in a hurry. Crossover walking is another lethal weapon in the proprioception training arsenal.
With practice, proprioception training will lead to measurable gains in strength as your body learns to communicate better and choose the most efficient ways to tackle the exercises you throw its way. As an added benefit, this type of training spreads the wealth by addressing core strength deficiencies and including stabilizers in the workout. Overall, it’s a great way to grow stronger without risking injury by isolating individual muscle groups to the point of exhaustion.