In referring back to last week’s Movement Wednesday post titled, Our Own Unique Strength, I will continue my efforts for the next couple of weeks on the idea of strength. To dive in a little deeper on the educational aspect of how a muscle actually works, we need to understand the muscles relationship with the brain and spinal cord, also known as the Central Nervous System (CNS).
In order to understand this relationship clearly, I believe it is important to understand the importance of proprioception:
- Proprioception simply means the perception of movement and position of the parts of your body.
- Proprioceptors are sensory receptors located in your tendons, joints, muscles, and other connective tissues.
- Proprioception informs the brain about positions of numerous body parts, which is important in muscle memory.
- Proprioceptive (sensory) information is carried from the muscle, or connective tissue, to the brain by a synapse through an ascending tract (EASY: Spinal cord to the brain – upward direction) where it perceives the information and responds accordingly. In response, the brain sends the appropriate motor response to the muscle, or connective tissue.
This relationship enables both conscious awareness of proprioception as well as unconscious neuromuscular functions. Today in rehearsal, a friend said to me, “Was my knee straight when I landed from the tour jete?” Before I could answer the dancer responded, “I think it was, I had the feeling.” In dance, we constantly work for that “feeling” we know is right. How important is proprioception to our work? I’m sure we can all agree that it is more than important. Proprioception is important in our progress, our understanding of what’s right and wrong with our movement, our automatic unconscious understanding of movement, our injuries, our posture, our strength. The list could go on and on!
A proprioception stretch: A chiropractor recently gave me this stretch, and I thought it would be useful to today’s post.
2×4 Stretch: Stand with the balls of you feet on the 2×4, heels on the ground. Stand straight as you can 2 minutes first thing in the morning and 2 minutes last thing at night everyday for at least 4 weeks. (Remember to wear shoes when you do this).
– This was given for Pelvic-Sacral proprioception. –
References: Marieb, Elaine N. and Mitchell, Susan J. “Ninth Edition – Human Anatomy & Physiology Laboratory Manual.” Pearson Education, Inc., 2011.