After an introduction to the main muscles of movement and the anatomical references for alignment and balance, consider what you experience when thinking about the position and movement of your body - your sense of proprioception.
A definition of proprioception:
"The ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium of your body."
The basic idea:
In response to various stimuli, 'sensors' located throughout the body generate information that is sent to the brain for 'interpretation'.
Sensory feedback concerning position, motion and balance is processed for the sense of proprioception.
The brain uses this proprioceptive information to make adjustments to the body in order to maintain a 'functional posture'.
'Conscious proprioception' is when we are aware of the proprioceptive information our body and brain have for us.
When we can consciously sense/feel:
- The relative position of the parts of our body.
- The motion of our body.
- Our equilibrium - whether we are balanced or not.
Knowing the physiology of proprioception is not necessary in order to experience it so I will not go into further details here, although I feel it fair to say that the different mechanisms and various proprioceptors ('sensors') involved in our sense of position and movement are not fully understood.
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An awareness of my body's proprioceptive feedback developed as I worked primarily with my Base-Line muscles:
Pelvic floor Base.
Rectus abdominis Line.
Feeling my position, motion, equilibrium.
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Base-Line Hypothesis of Human Health and Movement. (part 2)
Position, Motion, Equilibrium.
- To describe the position of something you need a reference.
→ The position of the rest of your body is relative to your Base-Line.
- To describe a motion (a change in position) a reference is also needed.
→ All movement should originate from your Base-Line muscles.
→ The linea alba being our primary guide for body alignment and balance.
The Body Map in Our Mind.
I believe we have the innate knowledge of what the body should be able to do, of where our full range of natural movement should extend to.
Imagine a 3-D representation of the body's full range of movement - a fluid demonstration of the almost infinite number of positions it can get into.
A moving map in the mind of our full spatial potential.
Proprioceptive information received by the brain is applied to this 'ideal map'.
- Sensory feedback from the pelvic floor muscles should align with the Base point of the map.
- Sensory feedback from the rectus abdominis muscles should align with Line that orientates the map.
' Our Base-Line. From where the rest of the body extends.
With a full range of natural movement, all proprioceptive feedback can be accurately overlaid onto the map. Ability aligns with potential.
When physical restrictions ('physical restrictions' will expanded on in later posts) are present on the body, they reduce range of movement and interfere with the sensory feedback. The information regarding the body's position and motion cannot align with the ideal map.
Active engagement of the Base-Line muscles increases our conscious connection to:
- This 'body map in the mind'.
- The proprioceptive feedback that is compared to it.
Creating a positive feedback loop to work towards dynamic alignment and a balanced body.
I don't think I'm the first to try and describe the sensation of proprioception (to be expanded in later posts) but words aren't so easy.
To sense, to feel, to visualise, to awaken, to see, to be aware of, to instinctively know....
I feel this intrinsic human function is something to be experienced to be understood.
Connecting with My Base-Line.
Focusing on my Base-Line muscles getting stronger and longer with every in-breath was the key to unlocking my sense of proprioception.
- Thinking of a solid pelvic floor Base at the root of all movement.
- Then section by section, my rectus abdominis muscles engaging and elongating, the central Line supporting the body.
The roll-down action became my fundamental move, forming the longest possible arc whilst activating my Base-Line muscles.
Feeling the potential of my 'core pillar of strength' every time I rolled down, breathing with my Base-Line.
Instinctively moving to release some of the physical tensions I carried on my body.
Swinging my arms, stretching and wiggling my fingers. Bending my knees, flexing ankles and toes. Shifting my weight from heel to toe, side to side. Moving my mouth and jaw, rolling my eyes (as if I don't get enough practice!), pulling faces, sticking my tongue out. Whatever feels good. The possibilities are endless on the way to a full range of natural movement.
At some point I became aware of:
A Sense of Visuals.
Sparkles - splodges - lights - colours - bursts - streams.
Loci, shapes and patterns.
Flowing, flashing, pulsing. Always on the move.
Slightly out of reach, unable to be pinned down. A visual experience.
Activity in the visual centre of my brain, something played out on my retinas, or what? I don't know what the process is, but I assume I'm not the only one who sees them.
I believe 'the sparkles' are a representation of proprioceptive feedback from my body. A mental image of the current position and motion of my body in colour and light.
Bright and vivid in places where the proprioceptive feedback is clear. It feels like there's no feedback from areas of my body where my range of movement is restricted - blank spaces / missing information in the streaks and waves.
Focusing on my main muscles of movement increases the sparkles, I can see a representation of them.
Feeling for balance in my trapezius muscles extending from midline to head and arms.
Working on full engagement of my gluteus maximus and rectus femoris of each leg.
With my Base-Line pelvic floor and rectus abdominis the centre of my body.
A Sense of Presence and Potential.
I now have a conscious awareness of my body's presence in space that I previously lacked. I was clumsy and accident prone.
I can see my 'body map in the mind'. (see above). A peripheral outline of where a full range of natural movement should be able to take me. A 3-D shadow of my potential.
I can feel what my body should be capable of. The potential for dynamic alignment where all movement is smooth, controlled and pain-free.
I used to think the human 'machine' was a poor design. But I was wrong, it was years of poor usage that had made life so painful.
I am aware of relative alignment of my midline anatomy and can sense the 'target line' of the median plane. Feeling how to move to work towards balancing my body and regaining my full range of natural movement.
I believe consciously connecting with the body's Base-Line is the key to better health for so many these days. (better health to be expanded on in later posts).
I was a wreck when I started. I'm now into year three of working towards a full range of movement and dynamic alignment. Every day feeling and moving better than ever before.
BLH - Definition of Conscious Proprioception:
"The ability to sense the position of your body in space and to feel where your natural range of movement should take you."
Think about activating your main muscles of movement and becoming aware of the sensory information they provide. A positive feedback loop to develop your sense of 'conscious proprioception', the innate connection between body and mind.
1. Inward Focus.
Whatever helps you relax and lose a little of the outside world. Close your eyes and think of your Base-Line muscles at the core of all movement, the central pillar from where the rest of the body extends.
Technique: Breathing with your Base-Line
2. Use Your Main Muscles of Movement.
Think about using your main muscles movement whatever you are doing, whatever position you are in.
Pelvic floor, rectus abdominis, gluteus maximus, rectus femoris, trapezius.
Consider the relative position and condition of each of these muscles. Tap into the sensory feedback from your body.
Move around, feeling for balance between the left and right of each of the main muscles of movement. Explore your range of movement supported by your Base-Line.
Adjust your body as feels natural, thinking about your midline anatomy as your guide for alignment, beginning with your linea alba.
3. Feel the Sunlight.
Dawn and dusk seem to be recommended as good times for many traditional exercises, but whatever works for you.
Closing my eyes and feeling the sun's rays on my face. The light through my eyelids helping me to see the sparkles and develop the conscious connection to my body.
Being outdoors, breathing clean air, walking on uneven ground, all good things in my opinion.
4. Appreciate Your Anatomy.
Our system for movement consists of hundreds of muscles and bones surrounded by a body-wide web of connective tissues (connective tissues to be expanded later posts).
We are interconnected from head to fingers to toes.
Other than the 5 main muscles of movement, knowing the anatomical details is unimportant, but it's good to appreciate the complexity of the body.
Biodigital.com - A great resource to play with the anatomy. Thank you.
5. If You Experience a Pain.
⇨ Examine the feedback your brain is getting.
How would you describe a pain?
Is that an accurate description or a habitual response?
Focus on activating your Base-Line and explore deeper to find the origin.
Learn to read your body's signals better.
Conscious proprioception - the connection between body and mind.
⇨ Work with your main muscles of movement and see what happens.