Today on Fitness26 I want to discuss Proprioception training as it relates to strength training, injury prevention and overall fitness gains. It seems that everywhere you go these days; people are talking about core stabilization or stability training. While fitness professionals and consumers are captivated by this new “core craze,” the main focus of this type of training is really proprioception. Improving proprioception requires progression, just as improving strength or endurance does. You would not tell a client to bench-press 300 pounds on his first day of weight training, nor would you ask him to complete a marathon after his first trial run. Yet many fitness professionals don’t think twice about asking a client to jump headlong into core-training classes that require proprioceptive skills. But think twice they should, as you will learn from this primer on proprioception!
Proprioception is the body’s ability to transmit a sense of position, analyze that information and react (consciously or unconsciously) to the stimulation with the proper movement (Houglum 2001). Put simply, it is the ability to know where a body part is without having to look. Proprioception allows you to scratch your head without looking in the mirror or walk up a flight of stairs without having to peer at each stair.
So how does this relate specifically to the kind of training we want to do, and achieve our goals of gaining muscles and fitness and losing fat? Let’s unpack stability training a little further to find out.
First of all we need to understand exactly what it is we are doing when we do balance and stability training. Our main focus of these exercises is to build strength in and around the joints in the muscles and tendons. With added strength and stability around the joints we are able to perform more complex tasks and exercises with proper technique and without the risk of injury. So we add in static balance exercises to prepare our bodies for complex dynamic tasks. For example when performing a full squat we need stability in the ankles, knees & hips. So if we use single leg balancing techniques that put our muscles under similar stressful conditions that we would experience during a dynamic squat. So the better our static balance is, the better our dynamic movements.
As with all exercises incremental progress is vital, so instead of starting out with single leg balance board squats we start with single leg floor balance and work our way up. Look for my fitness26 video on this topic and you can follow the basic balance routine that I have set up. Keep in mind that some of the exercises require more endurance than others, so if the video says 60 seconds and you can only hold for 30, then hold for 30 and extend your time as you go along, keeping in mind not to go over the recommended time.
By Josh Muller