Good Thoughts Podcast #10
Proprioception Is Lifesaving Balance
Dr. Gary Epler – The new way of life is to know who you are moment by moment and be your true self. Know where you’re thinking from and that’s who you are. We’re going to apply this to proprioception, which means the ability of your body to sense where you are in relation to your environment. It’s about body position.
Joan – Is proprioception the same as keeping your balance?
Yes. It’s keeping your balance at all times – walking in the street, going in and out of stores, and especially going downstairs. There are too many headlines about people in their 60s and 70s falling downstairs hitting their heads sending them to the hospital and often worse.
That’s a tragedy that can be prevented. Proprioception is a long medical word, what does it involve?
There are nerve receptors in the muscles, tendons, and joints. These receptors transmit signals to the brain where they’re connected with the eyes and ear balance system to create a picture of the body position and movement.
Sounds like these receptors in the muscles and joints maintain balance. What are some examples?
I mentioned going downstairs as a major example. Others include walking at night in the dark without losing balance, and a simple one, being able to walk without looking at your feet.
What are the causes of losing proprioception?
There are some medical causes such as congenital disorders, but growing old and aging is the biggest cause. The strength of proprioception begins to diminish during the 30s and accelerates in the 60s. Lack of sleep is also a cause, especially with advanced age.
How can these tragic stories about people falling downstairs be prevented?
Two things. First, live a healthy life. This means a healthy nutrition lifestyle, eight hours of sleep every night, one hour of exercise every day, high level happiness, gratitude, compassion for yourself and others, learn something new every day, and be your true self.
What’s the second thing?
Special exercises for sharpening proprioception and balance. These include a wobble board or balance board, yoga, Tai Chi, or an exercise ball for balancing the abdominal and back muscles.
What balancing exercises do you do with the balance pad?
Purchase a foam balance pad from the internet or elsewhere. It’s firm foam about two and a half inches thick and a rectangle about 16 inches long and 13 inches wide. I like to do the exercises with bare feet, but you can use exercise shoes. I have the back of a chair in front of me to catch myself if I go off balance. Start with walking up and down on the pad, and then with both feet on the pad, rock your toes and heels back and forth and then side to side. Do sets of ten. Next stand on one leg and raise the other leg 90 degrees behind you. You can then do regular squats with both feet on the balance pad, and lateral squats with one foot on the balance pad. Then stand on one leg and raise the other leg 90 degrees in front of you. You finish with lunges with the front foot on the balance pad and back leg behind you, and repeat with the other leg in front of you.
Learn about proprioception and add balancing exercises as part of your daily exercise program. Do you have any closing comments?
Understand the need for high performing proprioception and balance, especially during older ages. Perform daily balancing exercises to prevent the fall in the middle of the night and other accidents. Live a healthy lifestyle and be your true self.