5 Mind-Body workouts that are about to Break out
Proprioceptive Training: The sixth-sense of movement
SOUL'S CODE — When a cop pulls you over at night and asks you to walk a straight line in the shoulder of the road, he isn’t testing your balancing skills — he’s checking your level of proprioception. A sort of sixth sense, proprioception tells us what our limbs are doing, and where they are, when we’re not looking at them. It is the mind-body's gyroscope for tracking muscular inflections, motor coordination and movement.
Proprioceptors are tiny receptors that reside in our muscles, joints and ligaments. They respond to pressure, weight, force, elasticity and tension. Each of our physical actions course through our central nervous system as a series of messages between proprioceptors and the brain or spinal cord. While this sixth sense is an innated gift of human evolution it can be undone by us in a matter of seconds through self-inflicted sports injuries. This is why people who, say, sprained an ankle in a tennis accident rarely fully regain their balance in the injured leg.
Proprioceptive training not only repairs such damage but minimizes the risk of getting injured in the first place. See the people balancing on those oval teeter-totter boards at your gym? (Technically-speaking, it's a ‘Swedish wobble-board.’) That's a primitive form of proprioceptive training. The goal is to tune your postural-stabilizer muscles to enhance motor-control.
A more advanced form of training: The crazy things that your Pilates instructor asks you to do with rings or a body bar while balancing on a Stability Ball or upside-down Bosu board.
Don't wait for a cop, or the threat of a DUI citation, to test your own level of proprioception: Stand on one foot on a stable or unstable surface. Try and toss a ball overhead, and catch it. Once you’ve mastered that, stand on one foot on a one-inch beam for as long as you can.
Meta step: Your Cirque du Soleil audition.
NEXT: A high-tech twist on Pilates called Gyrotonic