Benefits of Balance

Did you know that improving your balance can also boost your mood, decrease pain, improve cognitive function and prevent injury? I’ve always been a fan of balance exercises, but when I started learning about functional movement and proprioceptive training exercises, I started to appreciate exactly why they make you feel so good!

What is proprioception?

Proprioception is your body’s ability to recognize its position, orientation, and movement without having to look at it.

It’s what allows you to touch your nose with your eyes closed or navigate a dark room without bumping into things (well, mostly not bumping into things 😂). The proprioception system is made up of receptors in your muscles, tendons, and joints that send information to your brain about the position and movement of your body. When this system is functioning well, it allows you to move with ease, stability, and control.

These are the top 4 reasons I fell in love with proprioceptive training:

1. Proprioceptive training is beneficial for reducing pain!

Yes, you read that right. Research has found that proprioceptive training can reduce pain intensity, improve physical functioning, and improve quality of life in people with chronic pain conditions. (More on this later!)

2. It can reduce the risk of injury:

As a hiking enthusiast who’s also terrified of falling, this one’s pretty important to me. When your proprioception is on point, your body is better able to respond to unexpected movements and changes in terrain, which can help reduce your risk of falling or getting hurt.

3. It improves mental focus and cognitive function:

Recent research has found that proprioceptive training increases attention and improves executive functioning, as well as improving reaction times and overall mental performance. As a neurodivergent human, these benefits are huge. Anytime I can up my executive function a notch, I’m going to be very happy.

4. Positive effects on mental health:

Proprioception training has been linked to improvements in mental health and mood, such as reduced anxiety and improved self-confidence, as well as improved overall well-being and lower stress levels.

How does it work?

A proprioceptive exercise is a type of movement that helps you pay attention to where your body is in space. These exercises typically involve movements such as balance training (e.g. standing on one foot), core exercises (e.g. planks and bird-dogs), working on joint stability (e.g. single limb exercises on an unstable surface) and using proprioceptive devices such as wobble boards and balance discs.

How to incorporate it into your practice:

Incorporating proprioceptive exercises into your movement practice is simple to do but may take a bit of practice. I like to start with putting a strap on my yoga mat and walk along it as if I am walking on a balance beam. Another option is to use a cushion or pillow to practice balancing on one foot. As you progress, try adding in challenging exercises such as walking backwards on the beam or incorporating wobble boards into your yoga poses.

As your proprioception improves, you will also notice other benefits, such as increased body awareness and mindfulness in your daily movements.

Want to give it a try? Here is a guided practice that covers some of the basics, or if you would rather join a live class, click here to join the myofascial yoga community practice sessions. If you start incorporating proprioceptive exercises into your current workout routine, please let me know how it goes! You may be surprised at how much better you feel both physically and mentally.

Happy proprioception-ing!


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Goofy Tree Pose in Spray Valley