When it comes to needling and exercise, proprioception is King.
What is proprioception? It is body position awareness; ie: knowing what your limbs are doing without having to look at them. We talk about this all the time in our seminars. Some studies use specific points, others general ones, but they boil down to "needling improves proprioception". What better way to profoundly influence proprioception to take adnvantage of the local, segmental and long loop effects of needling?
Take this simple test:
- Stand in a doorway with your shoes off. Keep your arms up at your sides so that you can brace yourself in case you start to fall. Lift your toes slightly so that only your foot tripod remains on the ground (ie the base of the big toe, the base of the little toe and the center of the heel.). Are you able to balance without difficulty? Good, all 3 systems (vision, vestibular and proprioceptive) are go.
- Now close your eyes, taking away vision from the 3 systems that keep us upright in the gravitational plane. Are you able to balance for 30 seconds? If so, your vestibular and proprioceptive systems are intact.
- Now open your eyes and look up at the ceiling. Provided you can balance without falling, now close your eyes. Extending your neck 60 degrees just took out the lateral semicircular canals of the vestibular system (see here for more info). Are you still able to balance for 30 seconds? If so, congrats; your proprioceptive system (the receptors in the joints, ligaments and muscles) is working great. If not, looks like you have some work to do. You can begin with exercises we use every day by clicking here.
We recall that there are 3 systems that keep us upright in the gravitational plane: The vestibular system (which does linear and angular acceleration of the the head), the visual system (which tries to keep our eyes parallel to the horizon) and the proprioceptive system, including both type I-IV joint mechanoreceptors, the muscle spindles and golgi tendon organs.
If you want to, or want your patients and clients to be improve at a more rapid rate, run faster, and jump higher, you had better incorporate some proprioceptive training into your plan. It is the 1st part of the mantra: Skill, Endurance, and Strength (in that order). Proprioceptive training appears to be more important that strength or endurance training from an injury rehabilitation perspective injury rehabilitation perspective as well part of an injury prevention program
Proprioception should be the 1st part of any training and/or rehabilitation program. If you don’t have a good framework to hang the rest of your training on, then you are asking for trouble.
Keep on Needling
Timothy E. Hewett, PhD, , Kevin R. Ford, MS, Gregory D. Myer, MS, CSCS Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Female Athletes: Part 2, A Meta-analysis of Neuromuscular Interventions Aimed at Injury Prevention The American Journal of Sports Medicine Vol 34, Issue 3, pp. 490 - 498 link to free full text: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0363546505282619
Lephart SM1, Pincivero DM, Giraldo JL, Fu FH. The role of proprioception in the management and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. Am J Sports Med. 1997 Jan-Feb;25(1):130-7.
Tian H, Bian D, Sui Y, Ren L, Ma T. [Correlation between heel vessel and human balance function].Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2015 Apr;35(4):352-4.