Proprioception is often referred to as the sixth sense — minus Haley Joel Osment — but most are not familiar with the term. Proprioception gives us the ability to mindlessly eat snacks in a dark movie theater without spilling (too much) or effortlessly changing gears in a car while pushing in the clutch. Simply, proprioception is knowing where our body is in space and what each part (or limb) is doing while the rest of it essentially multi-tasking. We can direct our body without directly looking at it — an internal sixth sense.
At TreeRunner Raleigh, proprioception is a highlighted part of the treetop experience. You’re constantly changing and shifting your carabiner from cable-to-cable and walking on unstable surfaces while peering to your next obstacle. Follow along in today’s musing and learn all about proprioception and why it’s so important to develop and maintain.
The Science Behind Proprioception
Proprioception is an internal sense, but it’s not housed in a single organ. Instead, this sense is brought to you by your entire nervous system that controls all of your muscle and joint movements that measure and regulate how they constrict and contract. The information is sent through a superhighway of neurons to the cerebellum in the brain, which in turn can calculate where each muscle is in space. Although this system is beautiful and a bit complex it also has its opportunities, but for the most part, gets basic movements and tasks done.
Proprioception is a learned and developed skill.
Like other biological processes, proprioception can both increase and decrease depending on movement and use, and guess what? The best way to sharpen your proprioception skills is through training on unstable and irregular grounds, sometimes incorporating blindfolds to take away the visual confirmation we often look to.
Why is proprioception important?
Proprioception is important to our everyday activity because it makes movement a whole heck of a lot easier when it’s strengthened. The input we receive from our environment combined with skilled proprioception allows our bodies to make postural adjustments to what we encounter. This skill can help prevent injuries such as sprained ankles and broken bones — if something unexpected happens such as a large crack in the cement, instead of tripping and falling your body can adjust.
How TreeRunner Raleigh Supports Healthy Proprioception
Among our treetop adventure boasts beginner, intermediate, and expert obstacle courses for all skills and abilities.
- A beginner course has mostly stable structures perfect for sharpening your proprioception post-injury, if you work a desk job, or if you simply need to strengthen it. Test your strength and balance with the ring crawl and fabric band walk, or tightrope walk.
- Intermediate courses vary from stable to swinging apparatuses that take you 20 to 35 feet among the trees. Begin to test your proprioception skills and challenge your body with wobbly boards and a rope swing.
- Expert courses are designed for someone who is already an athlete or physically active. When you incorporate physical movement and fitness on a daily and weekly basis as in sports or other exercise regimens, your proprioception is at its height. To challenge your body and further expand your skills, harness up and climb 30 to 40 feet in the air while tackling a spinning log ladder, swinging triangles, and devil discs.
In all of these courses, every level can hone and connect to their sixth sense. The various movements from obstacle to obstacle while on unsteady surfaces really challenge and strengthen your body’s response to unfamiliar and unexpected situations. When this skill is optimized, it helps you live a better, injury-free life! You can now pivot when a snake slithers across your running trail, or walk over gravel with grace.
Who benefits from proprioception?
Every age benefits from proprioception — from little ones as young as three to seniors who experience difficulty moving. Proprioception is a “use it or lose it” type of skill, so it’s important to continue to foster and nurture it through TreeRunner adventure parks!
At TreeRunner Raleigh, we’re all about the whole person and our treetop adventure can help! Whether it’s through strengthening proprioception or working through obstacles with a team, we’re here to provide a fun and stimulating environment for all!