Friday, November 10, 2006

Proprioception "Make Sense Of It All"

When we started our company, we didn't want to become a coaching company, but we are finding that many folks are not getting what they need to hear from the many coaching programs. Just jumping on a trainer is not going to make a difference in your proprioception. Get off the bike and take time to learn your motor skills!!!

Proprioception is the human body sense of joint position, pressure, and movement. During any sporting activity, proprioceptive information plays a key role in the control, organization, and timing of actions. So how does it work w/in the pedal stroke.

With regard to the knee and your motor skills, the sensory afferent information comes from mechanoreceptors situated in the cruciate ligaments, menisci, infrapatellar fat pad, and joint capsule.

In the fall if a athlete just trains on the bike, proprioception information can become a problem. Bad motor skills can come to play. Even w/ spinning, when the leg speed increases, you simple can't sense the mechanorecptors information. Your bike setup can be off and that can lead to a overuse issue.

In overuse soft tissue injuries, nerve endings and pathways may be damaged leading to impaired transmission of nerve impulses in a reflex action. This may result in impaired balance, reduced co-ordination and joint position sense, and a tendency for the knee to give way to wear & tear. Get off the bike and go do something else.

Proprioceptive exercises should be part of ones fall/winter training. The athlete should become more aware of his/her joint position sense. This will help w/ the correct pedal pattern, including alignment and position of the knee, and correct weight transmission during the stroke. plus help the proprioceptive input. We have found that many pedal in a poor pattern because they can't sense what is needed. They just sit in the saddle and pedal.

Here are a few things that can aid in your propriceptive needs. I think eveyone would agree that the pedal stroke is semi-weight bearing and the forces will increase w/ climbing. So perhaps off bike exercises should be as follows.

Proprioceptive exercises can be started in a partially weight bearing position such as sitting with feet placed on a rocker board and moving forwards and backwards. Proprioceptive exercises can progress to using unstable surfaces such as a rocker or balance board, a mini-trampoline, or a Pro Ski Fitter. Balance boards are used initially with two legs, then with one leg only, w/ gradual progression of difficulty.

Once the athlete can manage these tasks, jumping and hopping exercises can be undertaken, initially on a mini-trampoline, and then on the floor, adding twisting movements. Maybe a few weeks of , walking, running, snow skiing, something other than sitting on the bike.

Skipping can be used with different combinations of hopping including: on the spot; forwards; backwards; sideways; or single hops (on each leg). A sports cord can be used to resist motion when jumping and hopping. Agility and sports-specific drills also encourage an improvement in proprioception. Repetition of specific movements and actions helps to pre-program muscle activity which is important for neuromuscular control and joint stability.

Bottom line, get off the bike and get control of your movesments. It will make a difference in your ability to pedal better.

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