Whole Health

Improve Balance, Stability and Coordination

Improve balance and coordination; reduce the risk of injury through proprioception training.

What is proprioception?

Proprioception is your sense of position. It is knowing where your body is in space without having to look, a subconscious process.  For example, it enables you to walk without looking at your feet.

One’s proprioception tends to weaken with age.  This is because signals to and from the brain slow with time, resulting in a negative effect on balance which increases the risk of falling.  Impaired balance is usually one of the first symptoms of declining proprioception.

There are, however, exercises designed to improve one’s proprioception, performed at any age.  When properly executed these exercises teach/re-teach the brain/body to adequately and safely react to changes in position, surroundings and other external forces.

Although exercising to improve proprioception is beneficial and helps reduce the risk of injury, one also needs to be careful.  Instances where it may be advisable NOT to perform such training include situations where there is:

  • Acute inflammation
  • Postoperative circumstances
  • Joint instability, depending on location
  • Under the age of 16 or a senior
  • Excess body weight.

Contact a health care professional with any questions before beginning any training/exercising.  Be careful about participating in group fitness classes such as advanced core training that require a higher level of expertise.

Start with simple exercises on the floor; increase the difficulty as proprioception improves.

Wear non-restrictive clothing and good shoes.  Be near a support (such as a wall or a chair) or have someone in the room in case of dizziness or weakness to catch yourself if you lose your balance.  Concentrate on breathing; do not hold your breath (may adversely affect blood pressure).

Have some fun!!


Some exercises to try are depicted below:

proprioception2aAnkle & Foot Self Mobilization

  1. Sit in a chair; put feet flat on floor
  2. Without looking down, slide left foot back until a slight stretch is felt.
  3. Hold this position for 7 seconds.
  4. Repeat with other foot.
  5. Continue to repeat process.

proprioception1a  Single leg stand

  1. Use support, if needed.
  2. Looking straight ahead, stand on left leg. Maintain good posture.
  3. Maintain this position for 3-5 sec. Hold longer to increase difficulty.
  4. Repeat with right leg.
  5. Repeat process several times.

Proprioception4aSingle leg stand with varied head position

  1. Standing on left leg, raise right leg so that thigh is parallel to floor.
  2. Slowly turn head side to side.
  3. Then, rotate head up & down.
  4. Hold each head position 3-5 sec.
  5. Repeat process several times.

proprioception3aSingle leg stand with hip movement

  1. Stand on left leg (if needed, hold onto support-counter top).
  2. Looking straight ahead, bend and raise right knee.
  3. Move bent leg out to the side, slowly bring it back-keep it bent.
  4. Hold position for 5-7 seconds.
  5. Repeat with other leg.

proprioception6aSingle leg stand with bicep curl

  1. Look straight ahead; stand on left leg.
  2. Arms/hands at sides grasping dumbbells-palms facing forward
  3. Back straight; shoulders rolled back.
  4. Bend elbows at sides, slowly bring dumbbells up; do not arch back.
  5. Slowly lower dumbbells to start position, breathing in. Do 10 reps
  6. Repeat standing on right leg-10 reps.

proprioception5aSingle leg stand with lateral raise

  1. Look straight ahead; stand on left leg.
  2. Arms/hands at sides with dumbbells.
  3. Raise arms out from sides to shoulder height
  4. Slowly lower dumbbells to start position. Do 10 reps.
  5. Repeat standing on right leg-10 reps.
  6. Maintain good posture; Breathe!


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