Proprioception and Pain: Intertwined.

In order to have good proprioception i.e, a good sense of where our body is in space, and being able to coordinate ourselves, and move well, we need to take care of our internal body, and keep it refreshed.

I’ve talked before about the cortical homunculus, where the brain has the internal representation of our body. And how it can get distorted by pain, or if you only use restricted movements.

And recently there has been an update in how we think this works, with new pathways, that they think are important in pain perception.

Being able to move ‘accurately’ -with good body sense- has a big role in improving pain.

1. It helps with the accuracy of that brain map, and factors like cortical smudging, where the pain spreads from the original area to surrounding area. A  frequent occurrence with chronic pain.

2. Easy, comfortable movement is more pleasurable, so you will probably do it more, right?

And most of us could do with a bit more movement in our lives (of the right kind).

3. Coordinated movement is less effort.

A lot of what I do is targeted at just winding back the effort needed to do something. Being more efficient. Well balanced and coordinated posture and movement just makes things just a lot less tiring, so hopefully leaves you with a bit more energy for some fun movement, or for getting to your strength/fitness goals.

There are more reasons, but you get the idea…..

How do I improve my Proprioception?

1. Settle that Pain

You may need to work on the basics of getting your pain settled in order to allow quality work on proprioception, as otherwise you will always be fighting your brain that is trying to protect you from what is perceives as a threat.

In order to avoid pain, your brain will go to a lot of lengths to limit movement range, stiffen you and stop you having free coordinated movement.

Even if you know that your muscles and soft tissues etc are strong, and pain isn’t an indicator of any damage that you need protecting from, your brain will likely be sneakily changing your movement patterns, without you necessarily being aware.

 The steps in pain recovery:

Pain Freedom Pathway

2. Wake Up Your Awareness

You can feed and refresh your internal body map just by taking a moment or two to notice your body.

* This is particularly helpful if have pain with certain movements; you can take the first step to waking up those brain-body connections without aggravating the pain.

* Or if you are hypermobile and you have poor body sense, spending a little time regularly noticing what your body is up to can start get your brain map to be more accurate.

* If you spend most of your time in contracted postures  eg hunched over or tensely held in. Deliberately tuning into how you make yourself smaller than you actually are is especially good to remind your brain that the body can be in a more open shape as a default.

Active Rest is a good place to start some body awareness raising.

3. Get moving, but make it fun, and engage your brain!

This means mindful movement, playing and exploring, using all the movement options at each joint. Try to move in pain- free or minimally painful ways that are soothing to your nervous system, but also wake up all those movement possibilities, and keeps those mind-body connections firing.

Join The Mindful Movement Challenge Oct 23

In October, myself and Gemma from Embodied Mindfulness will be running a new challenge- the Mindful Movement Snack 5 day challenge.

A really easy, manageable way to get more mindful movement into your life – in 5 min movement ‘snacks’.

We are both really looking forward to it, and hope you can join us!


Sign up for the Challenge

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