6 Moves To Improve Your Proprioception | By Nelia Harding

Looking for more control and balance on the bike? Well, control and balance are closely related to a term we seldom hear, proprioception.

Myles Kelsey on the Cannondale Habit mountain bike on Table Mountain, Cape Town during a shoot for Bike Network.
The sensory receptors used for proprioception work in a team with all the other senses to find external objects relative to the body.

Proprioception helps your brain perceive where a part of your body is and how it is moving. Think about when you need to change your body position to setup for a corner, a line or gradient change…. proprioception includes sensations like the position of your joints and their movement, discerning the correct muscle force and effort required. The sensory receptors used for proprioception work in a team with all the other senses to find external objects relative to the body. Proprioception, movement control, and balance are best buddies.

Once you have mastered the next six moves, you will notice that you will streamline the process of shifting your body around when on the bike – which will make you more efficient and capable on the bike. Simply put, you will feel one with the bike. Start with a ten-minute warmup on the stationary bike. Do exercise number four, five and six from Workout One to prepare your body for the new moves. Then dive right in below:


1. Y Balance

The purpose of this exercise is to keep your hip and knee stable while moving the body and shifting your weight.

Setting up Use any markers you have, as the cones in the pictures. Make a triangle with one in front and two at the back. You will change the spacing of your markers to the appropriate spots once you start moving. The idea is that you stretch to the markers, so they can’t be too close together. Stand in the middle of the triangle and sit back while you unlock your knee. If you are not sure about your neutral spine position you may use a stick. As you move, try and keep your knee stable and feel the glute, hamstring and quad work together.

Forward Start by reaching forward with your other leg to touch the marker in front of you.

Back Next, you will reach slightly to the side and back to touch the rear marker, return to the middle and then go for the opposite marker.

Tip Allow the upper body to move with you, when the leg goes back, the upper body goes forward to distribute your weight evenly. If you feel a lot of tension in your calves, your body weight is too far forward. You should also feel the foot muscles work hard to keep you balancing.



2.  Turkish Get-Up

Setting up Lie on your back with your one leg bent, foot flat on the floor and the other leg straight and slightly diagonal. The one arm is straight and more or less in line with the shoulder, the other hand is flat on the floor. On the side of the bent knee, you will hold your kettlebell. That arm must stay completely locked in and the wrist must stay straight at all times.

Up

  1. Push the opposite hand into the floor and weight up. End with the bottom elbow, shoulders and top weight all in one line.
  2. Reach further up with the weight as you straighten the bottom arm. End with a straight line from the bottom hand to the top weight.
  3. Push into the front foot to activate your glutes and push your bum off the floor.
  4. Move the front leg back and put that knee on the floor to go into a lunge position.
  5. Lift your hand off the floor an straighten your upper body. End with your arm holding the weight close to the ear and keep it locked in.
  6. Push through both legs to stand up, bring the back leg forward. End with your feet together.

 Down Reverse the movement to the floor.

Tip: If you struggle to keep the weight up, get a smaller weight or start by holing a fist and balancing your shoe on your fist. This will allow your body to adapt and learn the pattern of keeping your arm locked in. Whenever the shoe falls, start again.



3.  Yoga Push-Up

The purpose of this exercise is to move through your shoulders while keeping the body in perfect alignment.

Setting up Start in a normal push-up position.

Down Stay in a perfect plank position as you lower down.

Up Push through the shoulders to go back, keeping your spine aligned. Try to push away from the floor to engage the muscles that keep your shoulder blades against your back. Do not drop into your shoulders.

Tip Keep focused and control through the shoulders by keeping the tension in the shoulders.



4.  Swiss Ball Push-Up

The purpose of this exercise is to use your feet to balance on an unstable surface, while your upper body is moving.

Setting up Place the dumbells the same width as your handlebars. Carefully place your feet on the ball and make sure you are in full control of your balance before you move.

Down Go forward and over your hands as you are lowering and keep pushing your feet into the ball in order to stay aware of the balance.

Up Push through the hands and start leading up with the chest.

Tip Keep your movement slow and controlled.



5.  Stir the Pot

The purpose of this exercise is to engage your trunk muscles for balance while the upper body moves on an unstable surface.

Setting up Plank on the ball with your knees slightly bent and your toes pushing into the floor.

Circle Once you have your balance slowly start circling your arms as if you are stirring a large pot. Do 10 to the one side and then swap over to the other side.

Tip If you struggle to keep your balance, place your feet further apart and bring the ball closer to your body. To make your abdominals work harder, move the ball further away from the body.



6.  Medicine Ball Push-Up

The purpose of this exercise is to keep the shoulders balanced while the hands are on an unstable surface.

Setting up Start in a normal push-up position with the one hand on a medicine ball.

Down Lower down into your push-up, keeping the shoulders at the same level. Open up the shoulder that is on the ball as the elbow goes back.

Up Push through both hands simultaneously to go back up. Once you are at the top, roll the ball over to the opposite hand.

Tip As you swop the ball over, keep the arms locked, to avoid losing your balance.



LASTLY …

Make sure when you do these movements that you are focused and your mind is quiet. If you are distracted you can easily fall and get hurt or worse, drop a weight on your head. By intensely focusing on your movements your brain will build new pathways and improve your proprioception, which will intern benefit your control and balance during your rides! Here is a link to an update on your program with your proprioception exercises added in. Have fun!



Nelia Harding is a Biokineticist with a special interest in Strength Training. She has a B.Sc. Degree in Human Movement Sciences and Nutrition, a B.Sc. Hons in Biokinetics, an M.Sc in Biokinetics and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association in the USA.

@h360_strength



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