Proprioception: Your Bodies Way of Protecting It’s Joints.
Thinking of Proprioception as co ordination and balance in the context of sports injury management
Proprioception, in the context of Podiatry and sports injuries is your bodies awareness of where your joints are posisitioned. Proprioception is the bodies mechanism of avoiding injuries and falls. Examples of proprioception includes the ability to stand on one leg without too much difficulty. When someone has a problem with proprioception this often contributes to painful foot and ankle problems. One very common example of this is chronic ankle instability. This is where the damage to the structures that normally protect the ankle from sprains are damaged and the ankle loses it’s co ordination and therefore it’s ability to protect itself.
Training proprioception should be done in stages. First getting you to the point where you can activate the correct muscles at the right time during less difficult tasks. Eventually progressing to balancing in a functional setting which should match your excercise goals. For example your coordination through your ankles may need to be better if you are in certain sports such as AFL or netball due to the risk of traumatic injuries during these sports.
At TFC Podiatry in Point Cook and Yarraville, we try and improve the coordination of the ankle by creating a controlled instability that can be improved over the rehabillitation phase. It is important to complete a thorough assessment of the foot and ankle to get an idea of the baseline proprioception of the joint. Controlled instability is guaged on the difficulty of the activity and the risk of injury, for example standing on a pillow is a very controlled instability. The soft and unstable surface creates a mild instability but the risk of injury is relatively low, this can be a good excercise for someone with a very low baseline of proprioception and may be a good starting point for people with significant impairment. However, to make this improvement functional it will need to be made more difficult as well as more specific to the goals.