Proprioceptive warm-up

In a previous blog I briefly touched on reducing sensory information, in order to improve squatting mechanics. The purpose of this blog is to show a novel approach to modifying a warm-up to compound or Olympic lifts.

In all aspects of movement, such as strength and efficiency, lies the master control; otherwise known as neurological factors. The most notable factors being the sense of kinesthesis and proprioception. It’s important to consider that the joints, through these senses, talk to the brain in two general manners. First, they relay information regarding their individual position in space and time and secondly regarding their relative positions to one another. Moreover, when combined with other senses such as sight, sound and touch we are able to perform movements with incredible accuracy and skill (assuming all are operating efficiently).

In training, improving proprioception, is something that time is hardly devoted to. As a practitioner of manual medicine it is a fundamental piece in the perfection of optimal movement. Any practitioner using PNF techniques or sensory motor training understands and has most likely experienced the positive effects of improving the Proprioceptive system. The results are improved movement patterns, speed and timing of information.

The following is a simple system that I have personally found beneficial in improving proprioception and ultimately perfecting secondary movements and compound lifts. It is both time efficient and easy to monitor improvement. Moreover, this methodology may be used for any movement that may be in need of correction. Usually the person being trained is unaware of errors in movement and believes that the movement is being performed properly. Try using this system to allow the individual to ‘feel’ the errors described by the coach more appropriately.

Step One: Have the client cover their eyes with a soft blindfold or night mask (as used in sleeping).

Step two: Have the client get into the starting position of the lift, without weight or resistance. If the exercise being corrected uses a bar, replace it with a dowel rod or broom stick… Use appropriate touch and verbal cuing to correct any errors. Also, it is important to have them focus on what they are feeling from their feet to their head. They should be aware of both location and balance. Repeat this five to ten times or until satisfactory starting position is naturally achieved.

Step three: Remove the blindfold and allow the client to perform eight to ten reps of the movement in question. Light weights may be used at this time. (I.e. 20% IRM) Afterwards, place the blindfold back on and have the client repeat the movement for another eight to ten steps. As the client becomes proficient at the movement, guidance and correction will diminish. In addition, the movement will become perfected and stable. The client will become more aware of the movements natural feel with eyes open and closed.

In summary, this methodology is a wonderful way to clean up movements. It may be incorporated prior to the warm-up set of any lift or movement pattern. Be creative in how you use it but always be safe. It may be a valuable tool, not only for strength conditioning, but for rehabilitation as well.


About doctoranthony
As a spinal rehabilitation specialist with over 7 years clinical experience in the areas of - Spinal Manipulative Therapy, Active & Passive Spinal Rehabilitation, Functional Movement and Orthopedic Assessment, Strength and Conditioning Coaching, Fitness Programming, Business Development, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and Consultancy - you can feel safe knowing that I understand the worry and concern surrounding spinal pain. This is why self-efficacy lies at the heart of my practice. For more info:

2 Responses to Proprioceptive warm-up

  1. Joe says:

    Hi Anthony, i read your blog and i found it to be very enlightened and refreshing to my thoughts. Thank you for your helping me or us that are in the field of health professionals…although i know this, its kinda weird but i do get a sense of gratitude with having a good man like you, who has all this knowledge and understanding is generous and kind enough to share your wisdom.
    Thank you once again, my friend

    Kind regards
    Joe Ulberg

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