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Proprioception (using the ankle as an example)

Is the body’s awareness of joint movement and a joints position in space. This is often decreased after an injury.

For example if you ever sprain your ankle you might find it difficult to balance on one leg or put your feet in the same position with your eyes closed.

This maybe due to damage or non-use of receptors, which send information to the brain regarding proprioception.


  • Ruffini end organs - responsible for joint position in space
  • Pacinian corpuscles - awareness of acceleration / deceleration
  • Stretch receptors in muscle spindles - awareness of muscle length
  • Golgi tendon organs - awareness of a change in tension within a muscle

Why should proprioception interest me, I’ve never heard of it?

Well if you take a look at the information the receptors are responsible for and then imagine trying to run after say an ankle sprain without some of that information. Well, your ankles could potentially be all over the place and your body would be none the wiser, because the receptors are not sending enough information to the brain. So what? Well, you are more likely to re-injure the ankle, if your body is not quite sure where your ankle is when it’s off the floor (joint position in space) it may not place it back on the ground correctly and therefore you increase the risk of ‘going over’ on the ankle causing injury to the ligaments (a sprain). This is why after an ankle sprain it is not uncommon to get the same injury after recovery.

So what can be done?

You can challenge the receptors whilst recovering from an injury to keep them sharp and working effectively, thus reducing the risk of re-injury after recovery.

This can be done with a wobble board, which is great after injuries to the ankle and knee. It can even be used with the upper limb to challenge the shoulder.

After an ankle sprain standing on a wobble board challenges the dynamic stability of the ankle and aids recovery. Once you can balance on the wobble board you can progress this exercise to challenge the receptors and stability of the ankle further.

Principles of progression:

  • Remove visual stimuli
  • Decrease base of support
  • Increase unpredictability of exercise
  • Change speed
  • Use a ball
  • Plyometrics

To conclude, it is very important to aid recovery and prevent re-injury in the future by including a propriceptive element to your recovery program after injury.

A section of exercises using a wobble board will follow on CoopersGuns in the near future. The exercises will start at a basic level and then employ the principles of progression stated above.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in contact on the forums.

— Phil @ 9:59 am, June 21, 2006

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