It's All About The Brain

04 Aug 11 - 12:01 PM

Joint position sense - does your brain have the ability to know where your body parts are exactly?

It’s All About The Brain

“…the ability to reproduce the movement was much better after an adjustment”

Joint position sense, also known as proprioception, is the ability of our brain to know where our body parts are exactly. Good joint position sense means that where you think your hand is with your eyes closed is exactly where it actually is.

A team of researchers from New Zealand headed by Dr. Heidi Haavik have recently been looking at the effect that an adjustment to the neck has on joint position sense.

In order to do this, they had a person laying down and put their elbow at a certain angle. They then changed that angle without the person looking, and asked them to reproduce it. When the person attempted to reproduce the angle, the difference was measured.

For those with a joint restriction in their necks, they had their neck adjusted and then retested.

What Dr. Haavik and her team found was that the ability to reproduce the movement was much better after an adjustment.

This means you might have a better idea where your hand is after an adjustment, but this result has implications on risk of injury and prevention. It means that prior to that, if you have movement issues in your joints, that you may be putting yourself at risk of injury, by miscalculating simple tasks. It is also important from the perspective of sports performance where the difference of a few millimetres can make the difference between a winning shot in tennis and the ball going out. It can mean the difference between sidestepping accurately and missing your footing.

However you look at it, your body will perform better and be safer if your brain has a better idea of where everything is.

H Haavik Taylor, B Murphy. Cervical adjustments improve elbow joint position sense. Award winning paper at Association of Chiropractic Colleges Research Agenda Conference, Meeting in Las Vegas, USA, March 2010. Abstract published in The Journal of Chiropractic Education, 2010; 24 (1): p.114. Full paper to be published in JMPT

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