Balance and Proprioception in Physical Therapy
Physical therapy rehabilitation always addresses our physical deficits, which are usually strength and flexibility. However, following an injury, along with weak and tight muscles, there is also a loss of proprioception in the joints.
Proprioception is body awareness. In the joints, there are receptors that give the body and the brain information about where the body exists in space. So during Physical Therapy rehabilitation, as the body gets stronger and more flexible, we also have to work on body awareness.
Exercises that are done on unstable surfaces or on one leg versus two challenge strength, stability and proprioception and speed healing. Here are some exercises that accomplish this:
- Squat exercises on the Bosu Ball for core and leg strength and stability:
There is a beginner and more advance version of this exercise. To start out, you can stand with both feet on the blue, ball side and for more advanced work, you can flip the bosu over and stand with both feet on the black solid-surface side. Start with 3 sets of 10 squats, using arms for counterbalance, relying on the core for stability, and on the hip and knee joints for balance. Work up to 3 sets of 20. For an even bigger challenge, try doing 10 squats on one leg.
To challenge body awareness, stand on the middle of a circular balance board on one leg and rotate clockwise and counterclockwise. This exercise works specifically in the ankle joint itself, but because of the circular nature there is no balance point. The core and entire leg get involved in maintaining balance and control. Do 10 rotations in each direction.
With these two exercises, you will be building strength and stability and increasing your body’s proprioception. Physical Therapy specializes in these fine details of rehabilitation to getting your better fast and stronger then you were before. That’s a big step along the road to recovering from injury!