Proprioception is our ability to sense the orientation of our body in our environment. For example, even when our eyes are closed, we can still tell that our arm is raised above our head.
What I’ve been working on a lot in clinic is neck proprioception.
Neck proprioception is our perception of our head position relative to our trunk, as well to body orientation and balance control.
How do we get poor neck proprioception?
Poor neck proprioception usually occurs from head or neck injuries such as concussions, car accidents and poor posture.
Poor neck proprioception contributes to pain, neck muscle dysfunction, stress headaches, myofascial pain and TMJ dysfunctions. Some studies believe it can also contribute to cervical dizziness, but there is not enough clinical data to support this.
And a really interesting research study is, Impact of smartphone usage on cervical (neck) proprioception and balance in healthy adults
Adel Alshahrani1, Sobhy M Aly1,2, Mohamed Samy Abdrabo1,3 and Faisal Y. Asiri4*, shows that our smartphones are contributing to poor posture and poor neck proprioception!
Prolonged cell phones usage might lead to deficient postures, such as forward head posture and rounded shoulders.
Neck joints are becoming under more stress due to sustained hunching over smartphones.
How can we improve neck proprioception?
I use a headband, elastic band, cat laser pointer all bought at Dollarama, and printed out a target. With your physiotherapist we would first assess if you have poor neck proprioception and if it is, then we would give you exercises, most patients will do them in-clinic but they can be done at home!
Improving your proprioception is an excellent goal for anyone who wants to improve sports performance or reduce pain.