You may know that I had surgery recently on my knee, the cause was patellar tendontitis. Thank fully the doctors were awesome, good people and allowed me to carry out my own rehab. It also helps having a degree in Athletic Training. So i put together my rehab plan and started getting to work.
Everyone knows about strength training and getting the muscles back, mine was literally gone. But, what people forget about is balance more specifically proprioception. In walking and running the majority of the motion is on one leg, so getting that proprioception back is HUGE.
Proprioception* is the bodies ability to know where a specific joint is in space. Typically we use our eyes to figure this out, but it is MUCH more important for out bodies to figure it out.
Real quick like: Stand up (on one foot); Close your eyes; and see how long you can stand there. Then switch feet.
We call this balance, but really it is our muscles under and over firing, because they don’t know where in space the joint they are responsible for is located. I tell everyone who is injured to practice balancing.
Here are some simple ways to improve your proprioception. ALL OF THESE ARE WITH EYES CLOSED.
1) As mentioned before standing on one leg go for at least a minute. Challenge yourself to start over if you touch the ground with your other foot.
2) Standing on a bosu ball. Same time as before.
3) Planks. To make this more difficult lift an arm off the ground or pick a foot up. Hold until you can’t any more.
4) Walk around your house, be blind for a minute. Figure our what the ground feels like.
5) Walk up stairs. Use the hand rail to know where you are at and count how many steps you need to take to get to the top (BE CAREFUL).
I love, love, love proprioception drills. There are many others, but these give you an idea of what to do. I currently use all of these in my rehab, ESPECIALLY the stairs. I work on the third floor and it is a great opportunity for me to get that proprioception back in my knee.
If you really want to challenge your proprioception, get a slack line. They are super in expensive (around $50) and can be taken anywhere. All you need is two trees in order to set it up. The tighter you make it the easier it is. The proprioceptive training you can get from this activity is amazing! Once I get my knee a little stronger I will get back on the slack line.
In closing, do all of you rehab exercises with your eyes closed. Try doing some of your normal training yoga, pilates, running with your eyes closed as well. It will make a difference in how you use your body. If you have any experience in doing any work with your eyes closed I would love to hear about it.
*I don’t typically like referencing wikipedia, but they had a good definition.