Your proprioception, or sense of physical self, is what allows you to move naturally throughout the world, go through motions, or participate in physical activity and be sure that your limbs will be in the right place to move you correctly. You receive proprioceptive signals from all over your body, via your muscles, tendons and joints, which can improve your sense of balance.
A good sense of proprioception can improve your coordination as well as your physical capabilities. This can improve your day-to-day coordination if you’re accident prone, and it can help the elderly, children and those who are disabled.
You can train to improve your body’s ability to read its proprioceptive signals by using exercises that specifically challenge you to be aware of how your body is moving and how it is positioned. A 2015 study found that proprioceptive training improves your balance and coordination by more than 50 percent. Here are four training trips to improve your balance and coordination by training your proprioceptive senses.
Close your eyes while you perform exercises
When you close your eyes, you should still have a general sense of where your body is. This can enable you to, say, touch your nose with your eyes shut. To improve your proprioceptive signals, you can practice simple exercises with your eyes shut to focus on the sensations being sent throughout your body.
Perform a simple exercise that won’t trip you up—lifting dumbbells, for instance—and practice feeling how your body is positioned as you go through the exercise with your eyes closed. Practice Push-ups or ride a stationary bicycle with your eyes shut. This can help you identify the sensations your body is sending. By allowing yourself to focus on them, you can notice more parts of your body than you usually do, and develop a more instinctive knowledge of how you’re positioned.
Perform balance exercises to improve your coordination
Balance exercises can improve your ability to evenly distribute your weight and keep you from toppling over. This can help you when you’re leaning down, when you’re carrying something heavy, when you’ve injured one leg or when you’re simply performing physical activities. Improving your balance can keep you from tumbling, tripping, falling down stairs or otherwise injuring yourself, which becomes increasingly important as you age.
Introductory balance exercises include standing on one foot for 20 to 30 seconds at a time, then switching to the other foot. You can also practice walking in a straight line, positioning one foot in front of the other with every step, to improve your balance. You could test and further develop your balance through water sports like surfing, water skiing or using a stand-up paddle board. These exercises can help you learn how to control your weight distribution and coordination.