Proprioception Exercises


Indications: who should perform Proprioception?

Proprioception is the ability of your brain to sense the position of a joint (ex. ankle), and control its movement relative to the rest of the body. Proprioceptive ability is often lost or diminished following an injury. Proprioception needs to be worked on in order for a joint to return completely to or near its pre-injury level. Joints that do not have normal proprioception are more likely to be re-injured because they will more easily be placed in an extreme position before the brain reacts (i.e. when the brain realizes that the ankle has excessively rolled, it is too late and an ankle sprain results).

Any patient that has suffered a significant ankle or hindfoot injury (ex. Ankle sprain, ankle fracture, etc.), or has undergone ankle or foot surgery, should perform some proprioceptive exercises in order to optimize their recovery.

How it's done

Perform a graduated program that works to improve proprioception until both the right and left sides have equal propriceptive ability (assuming one side is uninjured).  Compare to your uninjured side (do exercises on both sides until each side is equal). Consider the following guidelines:
  1. Do exercises daily
  2. Do exercises for 30 seconds and repeat for 5-10 repetitions
  3. Gradually progress the complexity of the exercises:


Basic Exercise
  • Stand on one foot on a flat surface with your eyes open (30 seconds)

Higher difficulty
  • Stand on one foot on a flat surface with your eyes closed (30 seconds). Have something available to grab if you lose your balance.

Even higher difficulty
  • Stand on one foot on a flat surface with your eyes closed and move your head from side to side (30 seconds). Have something available to grab if you lose your balance.

Highest difficulty
  • Stand on one foot on a soft surface (ex. a pillow or bed) with your eyes closed, and move your head from side to side (30 seconds). Have something available to grab if you lose your balance.


Edited September 19, 2015

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