Proprioception (proh-pree-oh-sep-shuhn) is the quality of being aware of your body on a subconscious level, where it is and how it’s moving, in connection with what message has been sent from your visual and vestibular system (inner ear). In addition to your eyes and ears, there is a third factor playing a part in proprioception: receptors. “Mechanoreceptors” are sensors in your muscles, joints, ligaments and skin, which react to movement and are found abundantly in your feet.
In a study of more than 150,000 school children, those with minor visual impairments also had issues with their posture, proving that vision and posture/balance are closely linked. It is why it is more difficult to stand on one leg with your eyes closed – because one of the three inputs of proprioception has been taken away.
Chronic or traumatic injuries or lack of use can change proprioception and reduce one’s balance:
Once you have been injured, you are at a higher risk of being injured again due to decreased proprioception.
Those with compromised proprioception from lack of use can include those who have never been coordinated enough to challenge their bodies physically, sedentary workers and the elderly.
Whether your proprioception has been altered by injury or has always been sub-par, it could be due to a diminished range of motion or lack of strength and coordination, so proper complete rehabilitation of an injury is important to ensure that your proprioception is firing on all cylinders.