Body Awareness, Kinesthetic Sense & Proprioception

By Sally Cina


What is kinesthetic sense?  It is the sense that tells a home-run hitter that the ball will go out of the park, because he hit the ball just right & he knows before the crowd does that the ball is on the way to the bleachers.  The proprioceptors in his muscles as he swings the bat send information to his brain, which puts together all the sensory input and formulates based on past experience what feels right.  Someone like Sadaharu Oh, the Japanese baseball player who holds the all-time world record of 868 home runs, would have an excellent sense of what it feels like to hit a home run.   Like kinesthetic sense, proprioception describes how much we know about where we are in space and where all of our parts are in relationship to each other.

Sometimes we have a better sense of proprioception than other times.  For example, when an intoxicated person is asked to touch their finger to their nose, it is much more difficult time for them than a sober person.  That is why that test is helpful to state troopers on the lookout for drunk drivers because their impaired kinesthetic sense is evident.

Our kinesthetic sense helps us move with greater precision, avoid injuries, and be fully present in the moment.  This awareness assists us in healing by enabling us to both consciously & unconsciously direct our energy and healing activities like fluid and chemical exchanges more effectively to an injured area.  All sorts of factors will influence human proprioception. The neural pathways in the brain give us an almost unconscious sense of the right sequence of muscle contractions that will cause our foot to take a step. Microscopic sensory receptors throughout our bodies send information. Our mind sorts through and processes this information in a complex way that science is only beginning to understand fully.  One thing is clear – greater body awareness leads to improved function and better overall health.

The neural pathways of kinesthetic sense become more ingrained through repetition. It can be a challenging process to overcome habits or tendencies ingrained in movement patterns.  One movement pattern will feel more “normal” or “right” because it is customary. It is helpful to have a teacher to correct one’s posture.  Yoga,  T’ai Chi, Feldenkrais and Structural Integration movement training are helpful and help show an optimal sequence of movements which has the intention of improving health and well-being.  With practice and with time movement training helps develop greater awareness. Structural Integration bodywork helps create greater body awareness.  With touch and intention the body receives positive sensory input that shifts neural pathways much faster than exercises alone.  By working through the classic Ten Series of Dr. Ida Rolf, a well-ordered sequence of sessions progressing through the functional sectors of the body, awareness comes to parts of the body that have previously been far from conscious awareness. Clients move cooperatively with a practitioner’s hands in Structural Integration releasing tension, shifting perspective, improving proprioception and creating greater overall awareness.

About Sally Cina:  Sally trained at the Guild of Structural Integration and brings a compassionate and responsive touch to this work.  Sally and her husband, Alan Cina serve the Saint Louis region.  Sally can be contacted at Sally.Cina@yahoo.com or 314-489-3064.  More information at www.cinastructuralintegration.com.