Proprioception, also known as kinesthesia, is the ability to sense and freely move your body and limbs in your external environment. Having this kinesthetic awareness is important for day-to-day living and vital for sports performance.

If you’ve ever noticed the difference between grass and cement on the bottom of your feet or felt a grocery bag become heavier as you fill it with apples, you’ve experienced proprioception.

Proprioception can worsen with age, injury, or disease, making daily tasks harder and increasing your risk of injury and falls. Fortunately, adding proprioception training exercises to your routine can lower your risk of injury and improve your fitness levels.

This article explains all you need to know about proprioception and offers 10 exercises you can try to improve it.

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Proprioception is your body’s ability to sense its movements, locations, and actions. The main purpose is to prevent injury by increasing spatial awareness and balance. It involves a close relationship between the nervous system, soft tissues, and proprioceptors (1, 2).

You may hear people refer to proprioception as body awareness.

Proprioceptors are specialized sensors located on nerve endings in your muscles, tendons, joints, skin, and inner ear. These sensors deliver information relating to changes in movement, position, tension, force, and environment to your brain (1, 2).

For example, you experience proprioception when you’re hiking on a dirt path and detect small deviations, such as holes or rocks, in the path. To prevent injury, your body adjusts, stabilizing your foot and ankle in response to the feedback picked up by your lower limb proprioceptors.

In some cases, a person may have reduced proprioception from a recent or chronic injury, neurological disease, or as a result of aging. Further, intoxication from alcohol or drugs may reduce your balance and proprioception (3, 4, 5, 6).

For those with reduced proprioception from an injury or disease, many at-home exercises can help improve your balance, spatial awareness, and overall movement. In severe cases, you may need to work with a trained specialist first.


Proprioception is your body’s ability to sense where it is in space and adapt to sudden changes in the environment, such as those relating to force, tension, and body position.

Proprioception is crucial in all sports and fitness activities. It allows an athlete to dribble a soccer ball and run without looking down or thinking through each step. It also allows a volleyball player to know where the ball is in the air to spike it (7, 8, 9).

The more a person practices, the more proprioception improves.

Imagine that you’re new to basketball. First, you learn to dribble the ball on the spot. Then, you learn how to walk and dribble. Finally, you learn to dribble, run, and shoot all while paying attention to the game around you.

Even as an experienced athlete, you can still benefit from proprioceptive training. It can help you develop better balance, reaction time, coordination, and agility, which can make a huge difference in your overall performance (7, 8, 9).

Finally, proprioception training can lower your risk of injury. Improving proprioception in the muscles, tendons, and joints can help an athlete adapt to quick movements or shifts in balance to prevent common injuries and reinjuries like ankle sprains (7, 8, 9).

In fact, a 6-year study in European basketball players who participated in a proprioceptive training program observed an 81% decrease in ankle sprains and a 75.5% decrease in missed games and practices (10).

What’s more, another study showed greater proprioception is highly correlated with athletic abilities, with elite athletes demonstrating the greatest levels of proprioception in the ankles, shoulder, and spine (11).

Thus, adding proprioception training to your workout regimen may help you perform better and reduce your risk of injury.


Proprioception training is highly correlated to athletic performance and a reduced risk of injury and reinjury, especially ankle sprains.

Balance is the ability to maintain your center of gravity over a base of support. Your ability to balance comes from three sensory inputs: the vestibular system (motion, equilibrium, and spatial orientation), vision (eyesight), and proprioception (touch) (12, 13, 14).

These systems send signals to your brain to sort and integrate sensory information. Your brain then transmits signals to the muscles that are responsible for movement (e.g., the eyes, neck, arms, trunk, and legs) to help maintain balance and vision of the environment (12, 13, 14).

Proprioception is a component of your body’s balance system and tells you where your body is in space, the amount of force acting on your body (for example, when landing from a jump), or the estimated force you need to do something, such as pick up a heavy object (13, 14).

For example, being able to detect uneven ground can tell your body to adapt its center of gravity to balance itself. Thus, proprioceptive training helps improve your overall balance (13, 14).

Ultimately, training your balance and proprioception is important for reducing your risk of injury and falls while also improving your athletic performance.


Balance involves three sensory systems: the vestibular system (motion), vision (sight), and proprioception (touch). Proprioceptive training helps improve balance, allowing your body to stay upright and move while maintaining control in various environments.

Here are 10 at-home exercises to improve your proprioception. If you struggle with balance, you may wish to be near a wall or have a partner for support. As your balance improves, you can add a wobble board or disc for added difficulty.

1. One-leg balance test

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips.
  2. Shift your weight onto your left foot and lift your right foot a few inches off of the ground.
  3. Stand in this position for 30 seconds and switch sides. Repeat 2–3 times.

2. One-leg 3–way kick

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips.
  2. Stand on your left foot and lift your right foot in front of you a few inches off of the ground. Hold for 2–3 seconds, then return to the starting position.
  3. Follow the same steps as you lift your right leg to the side of your body and then behind you.
  4. Switch sides and repeat this 2–3 times.

3. Cone pickups

Tip: As you perform this movement, engage your core and use your buttocks and hamstrings to help balance yourself.

  1. Stand on one foot with your hands on your hips and a cone 2 feet (about 60 cm) in front of you.
  2. With control, bend at the hips and reach forward to grab the cone. Allow your left leg to extend backward as you reach.
  3. Lift yourself back up until you’re in the starting position. Then, repeat the movement to return the cone to its original starting point.
  4. Switch sides and repeat this 3–4 times.

4. Reverse lunge

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips. Shift your weight to your left foot and take a large step back with your right foot.
  2. With the ball of your right foot touching the ground and heel up, lower your right leg until your thigh is perpendicular to the ground and your right knee is at a 90-degree angle. Your left knee should also be bent 90-degrees.
  3. Push into your heel and squeeze your glutes to lift your body back to starting position.
  4. Repeat this 8–12 times.

5. Bird Dog

  1. Start on all fours with your knees aligned with your hips and your shoulders aligned with your hands. Be sure your back and neck are in a neutral position.
  2. Extend your left arm forward and your right leg back while leaving your other arm and leg on the ground for support.
  3. Hold for 2–3 seconds, then alternate sides.
  4. Repeat this 8–12 times.

6. Tree Pose

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands together in front of your chest. Shift your weight onto your left foot and lift your right foot off of the ground.
  2. Bend your right knee outward and place your right foot on your left inner thigh. Alternatively, place it on your left inner calf.
  3. Hold this position for 10–20 seconds, or however long you can. Then, switch sides.

7. Tightrope walk

  1. Tape a straight line about 3–6-feet (1–2-meters) long on the floor. Alternatively, use a long piece of string or rope.
  2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips.
  3. Place one foot on the line or beside the rope. Then, place your other foot directly in front of it as if you’re walking a tightrope.
  4. Walk to the end of the line without stepping off to the side. Turn around and walk back.
  5. Repeat this 3–4 times.

8. Banded triplanar toe taps

Tip: For beginners, try this move without the loop band.

  1. Place a loop band around your ankles and stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Shift your weight to your left foot and lower into a quarter squat.
  3. Using the loop band as resistance, tap your right toe in front of you, to the side, and behind. Do this 10 times and switch sides.

9. Flamingo stand

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips. For more balance, stretch your arms out to your sides.
  2. Shift your weight to your left foot and lift your right leg up with a 90–degree bend at the knee.
  3. Hold this for 10–20 seconds, or however long you can. Then, switch sides.

10. Sumo squat to one leg

  1. Stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart and turned out at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Hinge your hips and bend your knees to lower into a sumo squat. Be sure to keep your core tight.
  3. As you lift up, shift your weight onto your left foot and explode upward to lift your right leg off of the ground to the side. For added difficulty, hold your right leg up and pulse 2–3 times.
  4. Return to the starting position. Do this 8–12 times before switching sides.

Many at-home exercises can help improve your proprioception and balance. Though they may be tough at first, you will notice improvements with regular practice.

Proprioception is your body’s ability to sense where it is in space. It’s a critical sense to help with balance and movement.

Incorporating proprioception exercises into your workout routine may help improve your balance and athletic performance while also reducing your risk of injury and falls.

That said, if you notice a drastic change in your balance or have a new injury, speak with a trained physical therapist or other healthcare provider first.

If you’re looking to take your fitness routine up a notch or make your day-to-day living easier, you’ll want to give proprioception training a try.