What is proprioception and what does it have to do with back pain? If you suffer from back pain and you spend a lot of your day sitting (or laying down) this may well be increasing your suffering.
In the video below back pain expert Ian Hart (My Back Pain Coach) Explains what proprioception is and why it play’s such an important role in back pain relief.
He also discusses the other two major factors that might be increasing stress in your body, thereby making your back pain worse.
Hey, what’s going on. Ian Hart here and today I wanted to talk to you about proprioception and how it relates to back pain and other pain that you might be having.
So, if you’ve seen some of my videos on mobility as well as just active movement and the back program specifically, then you know that proprioception is a major factor in those things.
Proprioception is the sense of the relative position of the neighboring parts of the body and the strength of the effort employed in movement.
So, essentially, proprioception is knowing where different parts of our body are in space. We have nerves throughout the body. Our sensory system sends information to our brain, giving us spatial awareness of ourselves.
This spatial awareness is what allows us to touch our finger to our nose. If we were lacking in proprioception… we would miss! This is also why high level athletes have higher proprioceptors when it comes to swinging a baseball bat or hitting a tennis ball.
What proprioception has to do with back pain
For somebody with back pain proprioception is extremely important. That’s because we lose proprioception in certain areas when they don’t move! So, for example, sitting down all day causes us to decrease proprioception (our brain’s connection to the nerves) in the lower back.
When there’s a lack of proprioception in a certain area, your body has an amazing ability to let you know about it. It does this by creating a pain sensation!
Just increasing proprioception – which is one of the numerous things the back program does – can help provide relief from back pain.
It’s the same with the shoulders. If you have a shoulder issue and you haven’t been moving your body, the proprioception in that area will have decreased. Simply by doing mobility exercises a few times a day for a few days you’ll probably notice that your shoulder start’s feeling a lot better.
Depending on the issue, sending information from our body to our brains will help with mobilization, will help synovial fluid get activated and it will help with overall proprioception.
Now, there’s a hierarchy of threat levels that our body has:
- When we are deprived of oxygen our threat level goes up and we become more stressed.
- If our vision is impaired, our stress levels go up and our movement goes down.
- The third one on that hierarchy is proprioception. So if your proprioception goes down your threat level goes up!
There are a few things that will help lower these threat levels and relieve stress:
Breathing: specifically deep belly breathing, will help relieve stress. Letting your belly rise possibly holding it for a few seconds.
There’s a bunch of different techniques, but I like to breathe in through the nose hold it breathe in for 4 seconds hold it for four seconds and then breathe out for eight seconds to let my body relax.
Vision: I do exercises for the eyes. I move my eyes back and forth. If you’ve seen our morning mastery video (part of the My Back Pain Coach program) we go through a bunch of these exercises.
Proprioception: which is covered in detail in the back program consists of different movements which help re-establish the body-brain connection, thereby increasing proprioception and relieving pain.
When you incorporate just those three aspects into a simple morning routine you’re going to notice your stress levels and your pain levels go down. You automatically feel better because you’re activating your body and causing it to release more ‘feel-good’ chemicals.
There are a number of different factors that can increase threat levels in your body, leading to higher stress levels and increasing back pain. One of these is proprioception, your body’s spatial awareness. Lack of proprioception in a certain area of your body – which may be caused by lack of movement – causes that area to send pain signals to your brain. Increasing proprioception by doing certain mobility exercises will help reduce back pain.
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