The past couple of weeks we’ve been speaking about the senses and how they affect our movement: 3 senses that have a major impact on your body schema and Make the most of your “senses” in Pilates & other activities.

Here are some ways you can condition the senses and update the body schema:

  1. Get on your hands and feet!

The palms of the hand and soles of the feet are densely populated by somatosensory receptors, which will provide a rich source of somatosensory information to the body schema.

  1. Mobilize the spine and pelvis.

The vertebral column and pelvis is also densely populated by somatosensory receptors. Focusing on spinal articulation (including the head on neck) and selective pelvic movements will provide a rich source of somatosensory information to the body schema. 

  1. Use unstable surfaces and different textures.

Not only do unstable surfaces wake up the somatosensory receptors in joints and muscles, but they also cause minor oscillations to the head and therefore the vestibular sense is stimulated. Try exercises utilizing a narrow base of support (such as standing on one leg, kneeling or quadruped) or small apparatus (such as foam rollers, balance pods, gyms balls, wobble discs and so forth).

The brain loves things that it has to discriminate. Therefore, body parts that are exposed to edges, textures, nubs, etc. really stimulate sensory receptors and cause your brain to pay more attention to these areas of the body. Try using the “nubby” side of a wobble disc under the pelvis during Supine Pelvic Tilting in supine or under the feet during Bridging and observe how these body parts feel afterwards when they are at rest.

  1. Break the movement pattern…make it new.

Making subtle changes in alignment can help clients focus on the exercise but also provide a novel experience of the same exercise. For example, performing supine leg raises with the hips turned out instead of in neutral will give different sensory information to your body schema. Another example is changing up the speed of exercise (within reason) by having them slow down then speed up.

  1. Be in the dark…

Ok not really. But having clients close their eyes increases the reliance on somatosensory and vestibular input. It is theorized that body schema is influenced more by somatosensory and vestibular information rather than vision.

  1. Practice makes perfect.

Even though it has been shown that the body schema can change in matter of seconds, it becomes consolidated with repetitive practice, resulting in more automatic and efficient movement.

  1. The power of touch – yours and theirs.

Your purposeful touch or having the client touch the body part they are moving is a powerful way to draw their brain’s attention to the body part.

Learn more!

If you’re interested in learning more about how we apply the nervous system like I’ve described above to our movement sessions at Body Harmonics, join me in Neurophysiology 101 on Apr 16 & 17.