Being clumsy doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Body awareness, also known as proprioception, is a learned skill. So if you are constantly tripping over yourself and things – no worries!
While your brain (central nervous system) and nerves (peripheral nervous system) branch throughout your entire body, your nervous system has one extra level of protection and communication. Proprioceptors are specialized nerve endings that can be found in muscles, tendons, ligaments, layers of fat and in and around joint capsules.
Proprioceptors are like the eyes and ears on the ground for your brain, providing constant feedback about where you are in space and the amount of stretch and tension on any given tissue.
If you’ve recently been injured and find reinjury an annoying recurrence, it could be that communication with the proprioceptors has been disrupted and needs a little readjustment.
There are 4 types of proprioceptors:
- Muscle spindle cells.
These proprioceptors monitor the amount and rate of stretch in a muscle. Their main job is to prevent overstretching. They achieve this by telling your brain to contract your muscle to avoid overstretching.
- Golgi tendon organs.
Found in the tendon, the GTO detects and helps the body to respond to changes in muscle tension. Unlike the muscle spindle, the GTO tells the brain to relax the muscle to relieve the tension sensed at the tendon.
- Ruffini’s end organs.
These proprioceptors detect slow changes in the position of a joint and are activated when the joint is both in motion or stationary. These are also found in the adipose (fat cells) and respond to the same slow changes.
- Pacinian corpuscles.
Pacinian corpuscles (say that three times fast!) note quick changes in pressure around joint capsules. They are mostly stimulated by a change in position and quiet their response rather quickly.
Watch my latest episode of Anatomy with Alex (below) to learn:
- What creates your body’s sense of itself (proprioception)
- How to improve body awareness
- How injury affects body awareness
- How different types of stretching can affect the proprioceptors
- How you should be stretching to continually improve body awareness
Tune in every Wednesday at 3:15 pm PST on the AE Wellness Facebook Page for Anatomy with Alex, my weekly show where I teach you anatomy and physiology in ways that are relevant to you in your life so you can maximize your mobility and live pain-free in your body.
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