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Scientific Spotlight - Proprioception

Scientific Spotlight - Proprioception

Everyone knows about the Five Senses - sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell - but not everyone knows about a special ‘sixth sense’ that helps us experience the world.

This sixth sense is called proprioception.

Proprioception is an internal sense that helps our brain learn where our body is and how we move. Proprioceptive nerve endings in our body provide us with information on where our hands, arms and legs are in space without having to look for them! If you close your eyes and raise your arm over your head, your brain knows your arm is over your head, without having to look in a mirror.

Proprioception relies on the relationship between the body’s central nervous system and certain soft tissues like muscles, tendons and ligaments. Within these tissues are your proprioceptors that send information to the nervous system/brain.

How does proprioception apply to our everyday life? When performing everyday tasks, proprioception helps us determine how to coordinate our movements effectively!

For example, you would need different amounts of strength to lift a feather and to lift a heavy rock. If you were to pick up the heavy rock with the same amount of force as you would use to lift the feather, the rock would likely not budge. However, proprioception allows you to apply different pressure from your muscles depending on which you’re trying to lift. Your brain communicates with your muscles automatically, so you don’t even have to think about it!

You’re also relying on proprioception when dribbling a ball up and down a court while playing basketball. You know by bouncing the ball your hand will have to connect with the ball to bounce it back off the ground. As you go towards the hoop, your feet have to move opposite of each other to propel your body forward. Performing these tasks at the same time, without having to stop to think about each one separately, can be attributed to our sense of proprioception.

Ultimately, proprioception is super important in our everyday life! The proprioceptive sense is continually working to help your body balance, move, focus, and more!

Engage your proprioceptive sense with this simple activity!

Proprioception Activity

Want to engage your proprioceptive sense?

Close your eyes and raise both hands above your head. While your eyes remain closed, use your right index finger to touch the tip of your nose, followed by the tip of your left thumb above your head. Even if you miss, reach back for your nose, and then to each remaining fingertip.
How successful were you at finding each fingertip?

Try it again but gently wiggle your fingers on your left hand as they are in the air.  Did wiggling your fingers help you to touch each fingertip?

Comment how this activity was below!

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