Proprioception: The 6th Sense

For instance, WAFF was the equipment that fundamentally enhanced stability and reinforced good positions during the reactive training sessions.

How to apply sensory integration for performance, resilience, and health Ideally, injuries to athletes occur due to the pressure applied, which proves to be much greater than the tissue's ability to absorb the stress applied.

Basketball is a contemporary sport mostly characterized by speed and power hence injury prone to its participants.

Research shows that ankle sprains are the common injury that hinders players' full participation in the said sport. However, most studies have determined that tape and ankle braces are the primary interventions against ankle sprains; proprioceptive training is vital in minimizing the causing agents.

Consequently, the article stems from the general knowledge of mini guidance on how to engage and ultimately organize your thinking and actions towards the idea of proprioception. Therefore, this piece is of great significance, especially with the updates it contains and the chronological order of training and recommendations it offers.

Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation entails improving the range of motion via possible mechanisms and physiological changes. Several theoretical mechanisms play their part in reshaping one's structure and posture and minimizing injury cases: reciprocal inhibition, gate control theory, stress relaxation, and autogenic inhibition. When pragmatically combined, all four mechanisms facilitate performance consistency and produce quality at par outputs. Proprioceptive neuromuscular training must be carried out in the correct direction and manner to achieve the desired goal of increasing the range of motion and performance of the athletes.

Research indicates that whichever information one feeds the mind, the brain ultimately focuses on generating the consequential effects of the same. Therefore, our actions entail proprioception-oriented work ranging from strength work to reactive training.

This article primarily focuses on proprioception training related to neuromuscular and neuro myofascial activation, ground or surface-based intervention, general sensory feedback, and relaxation. Furthermore, we intend to classify proper integration of proprioception works through various methods such as ground-based/foot development, perturbations, and reactive surface constraints. We hope that through our suggested methods, the proprioception works can be simplified and done more efficiently, resulting in quality outputs.

Dilemma on whether Proprioceptive training is good or bad depending on which research to follow?

Over the decades, many researchers have strived to establish the beneficial effects of proprioceptive training while determining its shortcomings throughout the studies. There is research against proprioceptive training and the one that favors the training. With most people claiming the equipment used affects the overall results of proprioceptive training, others claim that no matter the tools integrated into the whole procedure, the program ultimately drives the needed adaptations towards realizing the desired results.

The conflicting research should never worry you that much as this also exists in other modalities. Some factors play a huge role in determining the quality of the resultant elements of various modalities, and one of them includes the level of execution. A correctly performed proprioceptive training results in a strong body posture with the agility to withstand dynamic environmental conditions of play. As many studies indicate, before the actual gameplay, the environment seems to have a stable surface, but as the game plays on, the environment dynamically changes to an unstable one. Therefore, this requires athletes to have the necessary strength, stability, and resistance to injuries for a long involvement in the game.

It's amusing how people often mess around with activities exclusive of proprioceptive training, yet no one disowns them. For instance, the many times we have experienced cable machine circus tricks performed by people or, worse enough, people collapsing due to the overloaded barbells dangling with tons of excess weight indicate the mess that occurs inclusive of reactive surface training. The unfortunate events occur, yet curiously people disown proprioception training rather than the cable machines or free weights.

Proprioception training brings forth massive benefits to the body. Apart from the stability training and its results, there are quite advantageous elements that impact one's body shape. From the mobility, muscle & fascia activation, CNS-activating, reflex-sharpening to control of the body in space (kinetic awareness), proprioception training ignite vital and genuine elements into your body. Furthermore, the ability to enhance relaxation (both autonomically & in the working tissues) and the combined sensory integration that improves strength, agility, speed, power, and injury resilience is a major boost toward the development of one's body.With the detailed advantages stated above, one may ask which way to start the whole program. How do you jumpstart your proprioception training program that adheres to the fundamental regulations and concepts for quality results? I know that's what you are looking for in this article. Anyway, without further ado, let's take you through the details of beginning sound application of proprioception concepts into your training program.

Consider doing it Barefooted.

I know you came across the above subtopic and thought, wait, I'm not doing that, I'm I? Well, there exists several benefits of starting your training with a simple barefoot. This step may seem obvious in many instances, but believe me, it has been severally ignored and ultimately left out of most people's training sessions. First, going barefoot enables the development of one's smaller foot muscles, ankles, and lower leg that get disembarked by the consistent and excessive time spent in comfy shoes. Technological advancements have gone a long way in dismissing the possibility of doing barefooted training sessions by providing players with cushion-like shoes for better lifestyles, hindering the necessary build-up of leg and ankle muscles.

Athletes should be able to deal with mass, momentum, gravity, and ground reaction forces during their interaction and navigation with their environment. Therefore, doing training sessions barefooted improves one's foot and the rest of the body's ability to cope with ground reaction forces. Besides, who would want a situation where the ground forces inhibit his/her ability to perform crucial activities? No one. Hence doing it barefooted ensures you have the best chances of adapting to the fluctuating ground reaction forces in terms of the mentioned elements such as mass and the rest.

Ideally, your movement occurs in the trunk or core. As articulated by Serge Gracovetsky in his book, The Spinal Engine Theory, the energy is sent down to the ground as one move. How energy is converted is fundamentally affected by several factors, such as how your foot interacts with the ground and how your foot maps the forces involved. The energy is dispersed throughout the chain for athletes with developed muscles and fascia in their trunks. Furthermore, the same happens with athletes having bio motor abilities for the economy of motion, which ultimately enables the uniform energy dispersion in their bodies.

On the contrary, if your feet fail to map the forces properly due to insufficient proprioception training, the energy is then routed in excess in specific joints or tissues such as your lower back, knee joint, and ankle joints. The major shortcomings of improper mapping of forces by your feet lead to poor performances in their respective competitions and prolonged injuries which ultimately cripple their careers. Most athletes face prolonged injuries as the major challenges during the courses of their careers due to poor training sessions.

Therefore, owing to the concepts untangled by Todd Wright, Assistant Coach & Vice President of Player Performance for the Los Angeles Clippers, on trunk developments via groundwork and progressively standing, the benefits mentioned above of going barefoot apply. The practice, also referred to as Vertical Core Training, strengthens the lower leg-foot, ankle, and sensory information transmitted by your foot to determine your body's place in space and time.

Doing your training is quite beneficial to your body, but we never discourage having your shoes on as that's what you will be using during your playtime and when moving from one place to another. We encourage the balance between training while on and without shoes to improve your proprioceptive mappings. Therefore, ensure you spend a significant time training without shoes for quality results!

Sound Methods over Novelty-Proprioception for “Activation” Work"

Activation" can be defined as the process of developing sensorimotor competencies, and like other fitness words that fail to have a unifying language, its definition stems from the procedures that involve corrective measures and movement preps for neuromuscular and neuro myofascial facilitation.

Remember, for effective expression of force; one ought to have the right channel to absorb and convert the force properly. Failure to achieve that results in poor expression of forces by the respective body parts hence the need to have the right tissues online for the absorption and conversion processes. This brings us back to our Activation- Absorption- Propulsion training model, which covers the topic extensively.

The below visual representation shows the right manner of using reactive surfaces in the correct context.

As illustrated above, the implementation is quite simple, especially for coaches and athletes due to their extensive experiences in the training sessions.

Considering the past experiences of instability failures, we tend to reinforce a positive and safe posture for both athletes and coaches. For instance, the slightly pigeon-toed feet enhance a more neutral non-valgus position while the chest elevation of the upper body into the lead leg resembles the gait cycle actions, which links the chain from head to toe for better bodily interactions, i.e., between the upper and the lower.

To enhance chain activation and enable the athlete to access their pelvis in a meaningful way for more hip and glute inclusiveness, we ensure the positioning and the depth align with the best angle possible to achieve the said functionalities. Nonetheless, the lead leg bowing out with the internal rotation of the back leg starting at the hip supports the whole process and ensures the athletes gains many benefits from the resultant position.

The posture also improves body control, CNS activation level, reflex arcs, and anticipatory neural behavior crucial for appropriate contractions around the joints. Additionally, we stimulate larger muscle and fascia groups and enhance the functionality of the deeper and intrinsic muscles of the body, especially in the lower leg, ankle, and foot region, to have more cards online, especially during competitions and major events. This, therefore, equips the athletes with the required skills and properties for a favorable athlete life.

Ideally, the important aspect of training sessions stems from how it is done rather than what should be done. The elements that comprise the whole training session determine whether the proprioception is good or bad. This applies to every training procedure as we can coach a deadlift, for instance, the wrong or good way, regardless of what it entails. The equipment used also played a vital role in reshaping the quality of proprioceptive training. For instance, WAFF was the equipment that fundamentally enhanced stability and reinforced good positions during the reactive training sessions. Consequently, the effects include a more safe and effective balance of stability and mobility, enhancing much reinforcement of athletes' dynamic stabilization. The above performance illustrates the clarity of the proprioceptive training sessions.

Positional Ownership

Proprioceptive training has been established to reduce injury-prone cases among athletes, even from the ancient world. Trainer Paul Fabritz of PJF Performance found evidence in the last article showing how proprioceptive sessions minimize injuries. The use of old school devices has massively been associated with reducing injury cases over the decades by about 45%. Besides, when combined with strength training, the injury reduction rate shoots up to about 69%, proving to be quite helpful to professional athletes in their careers. With more guidance and professionalism throughout the whole proprioceptive training can enhance greater accomplishment via its concept of positioning and better equipment.

No or Minimal Equipment Needed-Floating Heel Work & Hard Surfaces

While many people consider hard surface training the best strategic case point for foot interaction and power production, I view the argument as limited on mentality perspectives. As the above pictorial presentation shows, you can opt for a similar reactive surface training coupled with a hard surface for quality results. This helps maintain body control, appropriate activations, contractions, and relaxations while challenging the nervous system's tendency to stagnate drills. Therefore, the training can be considered a software update in your case and later show up in the rest of your training, sprinting, or even strengthening.

Floating heel on slant board or ground

Here the main objective is to enhance neurobiochemical goals of structural repositioning using some PRI concepts which facilitate neuromuscular proprioceptive while genuinely enhancing muscles strengths, especially in the body. The main advantages of floating heels include the foot force mapping reinforcements while strengthening the ankle and the lower leg complex in a position-preferred sport. The addition of certain cues of tensioning throughout the body goes a long way in reinforcing the tensioning of the body, proving to be quite beneficial to the athlete.

Intermediate & Advanced Progressions

During athletes' training sessions, integrating large and small metal balance discs accomplishes a reactive surface and something hard to push off. For a start, the exercises enhance the body's self-organization while channeling the forefoot force in the correct positioning. Furthermore, the smaller discs, which include a built-in floating heel, set off proper positioning for propulsive activities, which may sound obvious to many but results in quality body reshaping.

Coach Smith articulates how the larger discs play a crucial role in challenging and strengthening the lower leg/ankle/foot muscles, transforming them into a more complex physique. I would recommend this type of intermediate and progression options exercises for higher training age or athletic abilities as they involve massive energies and power to cope with the progressions.

Dynamic Stabilizations

Although most of the above-detailed discussions can be considered as a reiteration of the dynamic stabilization, in this context, we present a more challenging version designed to polish the absorption and conversion phase of the activation-absorption-propulsion training model.

The already discussed exercises involve simple, slow, and controlled improvement of athletes' motion, mobility, and force absorption, which ultimately does not mean one can manage their forces in complex environments. This is a crucial topic to consider as, in most cases, athletes are faced with harsh and cruel environments which prove to be quite detrimental to their health.

Dynamic environments are the order of the day in athletes' career life; hence the temporary changes induced via perturbations and the fluctuating surface interactions in their system fail to show up when called upon. Such situations are massively challenging to most people as they form part and parcel of our real-world experiences and movements.

To bridge the temporal gap between the controlled movement therapy and the real-time experiences, we must ask ourselves whether the exercises performed in such environments can hold up in dynamic situations. Therefore, to improve the mobility and movement prep in a controlled environment and transform the learned skills and concepts to a much more real-world situation, we need to move gently from a sensory, kinetic, and kinematic perspective and relay our athletes the necessary exercises which polishes them to deal with harsh situations.

To achieve this, we must pragmatically study the unique individual factors that comprise the prior temporary programs, such as loads, angles, vectors, movement patterns, and the overall unique environment where the movement took place. Then we can have a clear-cut way of where the failure is and design a program that ultimately meets athletes’ demands for their real-life situations. This will help prepare the athletes with the traits best suited to cope with their future dynamic environments throughout their careers.

The following are some ways we can challenge athletes' force absorption capabilities through reactive landings.

Doctor of Integrated Kinetic Neurology stated that "the vestibular systems feedforward or anticipatory effect on muscle tone is critical for force dampening.”

Therefore, it's crucially important to integrate feedforward(anticipatory) & feedback (reactive) control mechanisms to maintain stable and controlled motion. In sports, it is evident that we bias toward the anticipatory control as the speed of feedback is often too slow to support, and as supported by applied neurologists Dr. Ryan Foley and Dr. Kyle Paxton Points out, "imagine you're doing an altitude drop-off a box-when you step off and are falling towards the ground your vestibular system picks up on that relative motion and in anticipation of a collision with the ground sends an estimate of anticipatory muscle tone into the limbs [editor's note: and hopefully the whole chain] to prepare it."

Consequently, the anticipatory control stacks the proprioceptive feedback of our environment to auto-correct the estimate for most of our accurate stabilizing responses. Therefore, owing to the above explanation, it's clearer how we can change how we view the role of vestibular systems during our movements, especially those that demand force and energy conversion. Gautier, in his article, states that even though the ground is stable, the environment in which the athletes play is not hence the need to have a program that minimizes risks of below-par performances and injuries. For instance, an organized, sequenced progression of proprioception work with stable and reactive surfaces enhances the health of athletes and their respective performances.

Self-Organization & More Dynamic Stabilization

With still many people being left behind doing the traditional progressive overloads, Frans Bosch and other people have claimed that one’s exercises should never be comprised of pure loads only but rather with other tasks that may involve a little novelty as a guide towards a complete revolution of your body structure, strength, and posture.

Todd Wright, as mentioned above, notes that the loaded cues go a long way in enhancing bio motor abilities and biomechanics. Furthermore, the cues are useful in helping athletes navigate their space via transformation zones.

The transformation zones articulated by Gary Gray enable energy translation that slots into the absorption/conversion phrase. Consequently, the loaded movement aids each phase of our activation-absorption-propulsion Neurobiochemical locomotion model. The athlete uses the added loaded, chaotic stimulus, which provides a high-speed eccentric overload to improve reversal strength.

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