Monday, November 28, 2016

The Secret Sense

What does it mean to have body awareness? What does awareness have to do with joint position? Most importantly, how is body awareness relevant to sport? All are commonly asked questions which are all simple to answer with one concept, Proprioception.
Proprioception is the awareness of one’s joint positions within space. Proprioceptors are sensors that provide information about joint angle, muscle length, and muscle tension, which is integrated to give information about the position of the limb in space.2 There are two types of proprioceptors, muscle spindles and Golgi tendons. Muscle spindles are located within the muscles and are responsible for detecting stretch. They are set to determine to what extent can an individual stretch until an injury occurs. Golgi tendons are located within the tendons of the joints. They are responsible for detecting tension and caution the individual prior to an injury.2
Need more understanding?

Think of proprioception as a sixth sense. In sport, imagine paying attention to one’s arms when passing or shooting a basketball, or paying attention to one’s legs when kicking a soccer ball. Normally, a person does not pay attention to their arm or leg placement due to having body awareness and recognizing which joint position is necessary in order to carry out the desired actions. As an example, close your eyes and try to balance on one leg. Did you notice a postural sway? Did you notice muscles firing all throughout your leg? This occurs because the body is aware of the unbalance, and wants to not only correct but maintain balance through proprioception.
Body awareness, also known as proprioception is the recognition of one’s joint within space. It provides information about the state of the body parts in relation to each other and relative to the environment. Not only is it essential for activities of daily living but it is especially essential for sport due to the physical demand and quick motions that are involved within sportive activities. The two most important factors that athletes’ body are particularly sensitive to are muscle spindles and golgi tendons. Without these two factors, it will be extremely difficult for the athlete to move and function appropriately.

1Alpert, B., Field, T. M., Goldstein, S., & Perry, S. (1990). Aerobics enhances cardiovascular fitness and agility in preschoolers. Health Psychology, 9(1), 48.
2Performance, P. (2004). The Research Newsletter on Stamina, Strength and Fitness. Achilles Tendonitis: Prevention & Treatment.

3Voelcker‐Rehage, C., Godde, B., & Staudinger, U. M. (2010). Physical and motor fitness are both related to cognition in old age. European Journal of Neuroscience, 31(1), 167-176.

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