Proprioception & Balance Exercises

Proprioception & Balance Exercises

 

Article by I.Kelly, J. Ferguson, S. Tobin

What is Proprioception?

Proprioception is the sense of knowing where your body part is in space.

This can be a difficult concept to grasp until you lose it, because so much proprioception occurs subconsciously.

Your proprioception capabilities can be impaired when joints are injured, such as with ligament sprains.  When you lose proprioception of your joint after a sprain, you may experience an unstable sensation of the joint. Your joint may even give-out.

The most common symptom of reduced proprioception is poor balance. In this respect, most people can understand the concept that poor balance can be a result of poor proprioception. However, even your spinal posture has a proprioception component telling you whether or not you are sitting or standing upright. Good posture, for example, could be thought of as perfect spinal balance!

Every injury has the potential to decrease your proprioception and subsequently your balance. However, you can quickly improve both your proprioception and balance with proprioception and balance exercises. That’s where your physiotherapist is an expert and can help you.

What are Proprioception / Balance Exercises?

Proprioceptive and balance exercises teach your body to control the position of a deficient or an injured joint. A common example of a  proprioceptive or balance exercise is the use of a balance or wobble board after an ankle sprain.

The unpredictable movements of the balance board re-educates your body to quickly react to the wobbly movements without having to think about these movements.

That is, your natural balance and proprioceptive reactions that we are attempting to retrain make the transition from a conscious to a subconscious state. A quality subconscious proprioception and balance system is important in everyday life and particularly in sport.

Elite athletes are not thinking about how to stay balanced as they pass or kick a ball. That all happens automatically behind the scenes. The best athletes can then elevate their performance by focusing on what they plan to do with the ball and performing that match winning skill rather than wasting their mental power on just staying upright.

How Does Your Proprioception or Balance Improve?

Proprioception exercises are designed to improve your proprioception feedback circle.

In simple terms, your brain sends electrical contract or relax messages to your muscles. Your joint movement response is detected by your sensory nervous system and reported back to your brain for fine tuning and improvement with repetition of the process.

In other words, perfect practise will eventually mean proprioception perfection.

There are hundreds of injury specific proprioception and balance exercises whether your injury is your shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, ankle or spine.

It is best to see your trusted  physiotherapist to ensure you are doing the right things at the right time and not disrupting tissue repair. It is possible to commence advanced proprioception or balance exercises too early, which can be detrimental to your rehabilitation outcome.

What is Physiotherapy Treatment?

Physiotherapists help people affected by illness, injury or disability through exercise, manual joint therapy, soft tissue techniques education and advice.  Physiotherapists maintain physical health, help patients to manage pain and prevent disease for people of all ages. Physiotherapists help to encourage pain-relief, injury recovery, enabling people to stay playing a sport, working or performing activities of daily living while assisting them to remain functionally independent.

There is a multitude of different physiotherapy treatment approaches.

Acute & Sub-Acute Injury Management

Hands-On Physiotherapy Techniques

physiotherapy treatment

Your physiotherapist's training includes hands-on physiotherapy techniques such as:

Your physiotherapist has skilled training. Physiotherapy techniques have expanded over the past few decades. They have researched, upskilled and educated themselves in a spectrum of allied health skills. These skills include techniques shared with other healthcare practitioners. Professions include exercise physiologists, remedial massage therapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, kinesiologists, chiropractors and occupational therapists, just to name a few.

Physiotherapy Taping

Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled professional who utilises strapping and taping techniques to prevent and assist injuries or pain relief and function.

Alternatively, your physiotherapist may recommend a supportive brace.

Acupuncture and Dry Needling

Many physiotherapists have acquired additional training in the field of acupuncture and dry needling to assist pain relief and muscle function.

Physiotherapy Exercises

Physiotherapists have been trained in the use of exercise therapy to strengthen your muscles and improve your function. Physiotherapy exercises use evidence-based protocols where possible as an effective way that you can solve or prevent pain and injury. Your physiotherapist is highly-skilled in the prescription of the "best exercises" for you and the most appropriate "exercise dose" for you depending on your rehabilitation status. Your physiotherapist will incorporate essential components of pilates, yoga and exercise physiology to provide you with the best result. They may even use Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy so that you can watch your muscles contract on a screen as you correctly retrain them.

Biomechanical Analysis

Biomechanical assessment, observation and diagnostic skills are paramount to the best treatment. Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled health professional. They possess superb diagnostic skills to detect and ultimately avoid musculoskeletal and sports injuries. Poor technique or posture is one of the most common sources of a repeat injury.

Hydrotherapy

Aquatic water exercises are an effective method to provide low bodyweight exercises.

Sports Physiotherapy

Sports physio requires an extra level of knowledge and physiotherapy skill to assist injury recovery, prevent injury and improve performance. For the best advice, consult a Sports Physiotherapist.

Vestibular Physiotherapy

Women's Health

Women's Health Physiotherapy is a particular interest group of therapies.

Workplace Physiotherapy

Not only can your physiotherapist assist you in sport, but they can also help you at work. Ergonomics looks at the best postures and workstation set up for your body at work or home. Whether it be lifting technique improvement, education programs or workstation setups, your physiotherapist can help you.

Electrotherapy

Plus Much More

Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled body mechanic. A physiotherapist has particular interests in certain injuries or specific conditions. For advice regarding your individual problem, please contact your PhysioWorks team.

Yes! You Can Definitely Improve Your Balance.

The research has confirmed for many years that balance retraining works. It can also take only a few weeks progressed balance exercises to improve or normalise your balance and corrective reactions. You can perform simple exercises initially such as standing on one leg with eyes open and progress to eyes closed, but after that, the best way to improve your balance is to exercise on an unstable surface. For more information about balance assessment and retraining, please contact your physiotherapist.

Balance Enhancement Products:

Over the years, there have been numerous devices developed to assist clinicians to improve the balance of their clients. This has greatly reduced the incidence of ankle and knee ligament sprains, and at the same time, improve the performance of the athlete. Now, these balance devices can be used by you, in your own home to improve your balance and reduce your injury chance or eliminate your joint pain.
  • Air Disc
  • Balance Pad
  • Balance Beam
  • Swiss Exercise Ball
  • Wobble Board

What is Physiotherapy Treatment?

Physiotherapists help people affected by illness, injury or disability through exercise, manual joint therapy, soft tissue techniques education and advice.  Physiotherapists maintain physical health, help patients to manage pain and prevent disease for people of all ages. Physiotherapists help to encourage pain-relief, injury recovery, enabling people to stay playing a sport, working or performing activities of daily living while assisting them to remain functionally independent.

There is a multitude of different physiotherapy treatment approaches.

Acute & Sub-Acute Injury Management

Hands-On Physiotherapy Techniques

physiotherapy treatment

Your physiotherapist's training includes hands-on physiotherapy techniques such as:

Your physiotherapist has skilled training. Physiotherapy techniques have expanded over the past few decades. They have researched, upskilled and educated themselves in a spectrum of allied health skills. These skills include techniques shared with other healthcare practitioners. Professions include exercise physiologists, remedial massage therapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, kinesiologists, chiropractors and occupational therapists, just to name a few.

Physiotherapy Taping

Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled professional who utilises strapping and taping techniques to prevent and assist injuries or pain relief and function.

Alternatively, your physiotherapist may recommend a supportive brace.

Acupuncture and Dry Needling

Many physiotherapists have acquired additional training in the field of acupuncture and dry needling to assist pain relief and muscle function.

Physiotherapy Exercises

Physiotherapists have been trained in the use of exercise therapy to strengthen your muscles and improve your function. Physiotherapy exercises use evidence-based protocols where possible as an effective way that you can solve or prevent pain and injury. Your physiotherapist is highly-skilled in the prescription of the "best exercises" for you and the most appropriate "exercise dose" for you depending on your rehabilitation status. Your physiotherapist will incorporate essential components of pilates, yoga and exercise physiology to provide you with the best result. They may even use Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy so that you can watch your muscles contract on a screen as you correctly retrain them.

Biomechanical Analysis

Biomechanical assessment, observation and diagnostic skills are paramount to the best treatment. Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled health professional. They possess superb diagnostic skills to detect and ultimately avoid musculoskeletal and sports injuries. Poor technique or posture is one of the most common sources of a repeat injury.

Hydrotherapy

Aquatic water exercises are an effective method to provide low bodyweight exercises.

Sports Physiotherapy

Sports physio requires an extra level of knowledge and physiotherapy skill to assist injury recovery, prevent injury and improve performance. For the best advice, consult a Sports Physiotherapist.

Vestibular Physiotherapy

Women's Health

Women's Health Physiotherapy is a particular interest group of therapies.

Workplace Physiotherapy

Not only can your physiotherapist assist you in sport, but they can also help you at work. Ergonomics looks at the best postures and workstation set up for your body at work or home. Whether it be lifting technique improvement, education programs or workstation setups, your physiotherapist can help you.

Electrotherapy

Plus Much More

Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled body mechanic. A physiotherapist has particular interests in certain injuries or specific conditions. For advice regarding your individual problem, please contact your PhysioWorks team.

What If You Delay Treatment?

Research tells us that symptoms lasting longer than three months become habitual and are much harder to solve. This can lead to nastier conditions.  The sooner you get on top of your symptoms the better your outcome. All injuries are different and little variations can make a big improvement to your recovery rate.  Stiff joints or muscles may need some range of movement exercises. Other injuries may require massage or very specific strengthening exercises. Seek professional guidance promptly for your best outcome.

Explaining the Different Massage Techniques

Longitudinal gliding is a traditional effective massage technique administered in the direction of the blood flow. It aids the fluid dispersion from the injury site and thus helps reduce inflammation and swelling. It is also instrumental in relaxing tight muscles.

massage techniques

Kneading can be performed in different ways and described by the part of a hand used to accomplish the massage, e.g. thumb kneading and palm kneading. The massage pressure applied must vary according to the purpose of the massage. The rhythm and rate of the movement are equally important as the load is applied intermittently.

Myofascial release is a manual technique for stretching the fascia to balance the body. Your fascia, located between the skin and the underlying structure of muscle and bone, is a seamless web of connective tissue that covers and connects the muscles, organs, and skeletal structures in our body. Injuries, stress, trauma, and poor posture can cause restriction to the fascia, and the goal of myofascial release is to release fascia restriction and restore its tissue.

Trigger point therapy is a bodywork technique that involves the applying of pressure to tender muscle tissue to relieve pain and dysfunction in other parts of the body. Trigger points are active centres of muscular hyperactivity, which often cross-over with acupuncture points. You will also find that common trigger points are what the average person refers to as muscular "knots".

Transverse friction is transverse connective tissue therapy applied directly by the fingers. Transverse frictions use an oscillating pressure applied across the direction of the tissue fibres. This technique is primarily used on tendon or ligament injuries to help break down thickened, pain-producing scar tissue. Unreduced lesions are likely to cause further irritation and degenerate more quickly than they should.

Rhythmic compression into muscles is used to create deep hyperaemia and softening effect in the tissues. This technique may occur as a warm-up for more in-depth, more specific massage work. Sports massage utilises compression massage.

Cross-fibre friction techniques create a stretching and broadening effect. It can also assist in reducing adhesions and in helping build reliable, flexible repair during the healing process.

PNF Stretches (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) combine passive stretching, and isometrics with your muscle alternatingly stretched passively and contracted. The method targets nerve receptors in muscles to extend the muscle length.

What Massage Style is Best for You?

Yes. Massage styles and techniques can be confusing, which is why your PhysioWorks Massage Therapist is a highly-trained professional who understands was is right for your body. If you have any questions as to what massage techniques are the best for you, please call us to discuss your massage requirements. Or, let your massage therapist works their wonders on your body during a consultation.

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After assessing your injury, your physiotherapist will discuss the injury severity with you and estimate the number of treatments needed. No two injuries are ever the same. Your treatment will include techniques and exercises to regain your:
  • joint, ligament and soft tissue mobility
  • muscle strength, power and speed
  • balance and proprioception
  • prevention tips
  • performance improvement.
A British Medical Journal study found that pre-event stretching does not reduce the overall risk of injury. However, stretching does slightly reduce the risk of specific kinds of damage (injuries to muscles, ligaments and tendons). These soft tissue injuries are common in both elite and recreational sportspeople. It seems reasonable and common sense that stretching may not prevent you suffering a broken bone or a joint dislocation, but it could reduce your chance of a soft tissue injury. The other main finding was that stretching reduces the risk of experiencing soreness, which always makes exercising more enjoyable! While sustained stretches in isolation may not be the answer, other studies have shown that warming up does reduce your injury rate. While there is no "absolutely proven"method of warming up yet, the preferred options appear to be a graduated progression to prepare you for your sport. In simple terms, warm-up steadily from gentle exercises that increase in intensity and speed as you progress through your warm-up period. It makes common sense for you to warm things up slowly to start and then prepare with replicate skills, to what you will require shortly on the field, at the end of your warm-up. For more specific warm-up and injury prevention advice particular to your sport or work, please ask your physiotherapist to prescribe a warm-up and warm-down routine specific to you and your sport or physical activity.

Heat Packs

There is no doubt about it, applying a heat pack to an aching body part provides almost instant relief from pain and stiffness.

microwave heat packs

How Does Heat Ease Your Pain?

For centuries, applying heat is a simple yet effective way to manage your pain and joint or muscular stiffness. Deep and penetrating heat not only relieves your pain but also enhances your recovery process. By applying a heat pack to your painful joints and muscles, the heat stimulates your sensory receptors to block the transmission of pain signals to the brain, resulting in an instant and effective pain relief. Even if you are a chronic pain sufferer, heat packs can help relieve your discomfort - NOW and for many years ahead! If you've been suffering from either stiffness or pain that feels better when you apply heat, have a warm relaxing bath or a hot shower. Alternatively, a microwave heat pack could be the best investment you'll make this year.

How Does Heat Help You?

  • By increasing tissue elasticity, heat reduces your resting muscle tension and helps to relax those nasty painful knots.
  • Your pain quickly eases via the sedation and soothing of any pain-irritated nerve endings.
  • The profound heating effect increases your blood flow to the painful area, bringing more nutrients to the injured area while flushing out the damaged debris. This flush-out helps to quicken your healing rate.
  • The deep heat also promotes a speedier healing rate by stimulating your natural metabolic rate. In other words, there is more energy available to fix the injury quicker.

What's the Advantage of Wheat Heat Packs?

Can be heated in a microwave with a turntable in about two minutes. The durable but soft fabric allows for comfortable use and an ability to mould to your body shape, which is great for those super curvy areas such as your neck, knees and shoulders. You can even pop it in bed with you during those cold winter nights!

Why Do Physiotherapists Prescribe You Exercises?

The prescription of exercise appropriate to you and your injury or fitness level is one of the many professional skills of a physiotherapist. Whether you have suffered an acute injury, chronic deconditioning or are recovering from surgery, the correct exercise prescription is essential. That's why your physiotherapist's knowledge and skills will personalise your exercise dose. Your physiotherapist not only is educated in injury diagnosis but also exercise physiology or the science of exercise. This training enables your physiotherapist to assess and diagnose your injury, plus also to prescribe injury, fitness or age-appropriate activities targeted to you now.

What Exercises Should You Do?

Your exercises shouldn't be painful. Please take caution with some overzealous exercise prescribers who believe that the more painful the activity, the better. Thus simply isn't true—notably, the frail, immunosuppressed, deconditioned or post-operative person. You'll find that your physiotherapist will thoroughly examine you and prescribe a series of exercises suitable for you in quantities that will not injure you further. Please seek an exercise expert, such as your physiotherapist, when you are planning your rehabilitation.

What Happens When You Stop Exercises?

Without some simple exercises, we know that specific muscles can become weak. When these supporting muscles are weak, your injured structures are inadequately supported and predispose you to linger symptoms or further injury. You can also over-activate adjacent muscles that may lead to further damage. It is also essential to understand that even if you are "in good shape", you may have crucial but weak localised or stability muscles. When you have an injury, you should perform specific exercises that specifically strengthen the muscles around your injury and the adjacent joints. Your physiotherapist will assess your muscle function and prescribe the right exercises specific for your needs. The exercises prescribed will usually be relatively simple, and do not require any special weights equipment, and can be performed safely at home.

Would You Stop Your Daily Prescription Drugs?

Your physiotherapist will prescribe your individualised dose or exercises. They are using their professional expertise to optimise your exercise dose. Would you just stop taking your regular blood pressure medication because you were too busy or didn't think it was working? We would hope not! Exercise, when prescribed by an expert such as your physiotherapist, should be treated as your recommended dose. Just like when you don't take your blood pressure medication, you can't expect the drugs to work of you don't take it as prescribed by your health professional. So, next time you skip your "exercise dose" just remember that you are not putting your health first. If you have any questions, please contact your Physio Works physiotherapist for your best care.
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