The Proprioceptive System and Activities You Can Do at Home

Updated: Apr 6

Simply put, a recap; Sensory Integration or Sensory Processing is the neurological process that organizes sensory information received from ones own body and the environment making it possible to interact and respond effectively. Sensory Processing is the relationship between the brain and behavior.


family activities and the proprioceptive system by kozie clothes

There are 9 sensory systems:

  • Visual/Eyes

  • Auditory/Sound

  • Tactile/Touch

  • Taste

  • Smell/Olfactory

  • Vestibular

  • Proprioceptive

  • Gustatory

  • Interoception


OUR FOCUS FOR THESE ACTIVITIES WILL BE THE PROPRIOCEPTIVE SENSORY SYSTEM


Simply put, the Proprioceptive System is an ongoing circuit between sensory stretch receptors and the Central Nervous System. The sensory stretch receptors are located in our muscles, joints, skin, and ligaments. The brain receives this information to interpret, plan, and to execute movement, force, direction, effort, and coordination in an efficient manner. For example, good proprioception is necessary for knowing what force to hold onto a paper cup without dropping or smashing it, opposed to the force needed for carrying a heavy water pitcher effectively. We rely heavily on this sense throughout the day to keep track of what our bodies are doing.


Accurately interpreting and responding helps us to manipulate objects, make necessary adjustments to our body positioning, and use fine and large motor movements efficiently. Similarly to Vestibular senses, the Proprioceptive Sensory System is necessary for building body awareness and security which are necessary for effective Motor Planning.


Proprioception, along with the Tactile and Vestibular Sensory Systems, are considered the cornerstone to Sensory Integration therapy and treatment. Due to the complexity of the propriceptive sensory system, you may see some of the following behaviors if this system is underdeveloped. In cases of underdeveloped Proprioceptive Processing, the guidance of an experienced Sensory Occupational Therapist should be applied.


Proprioceptive System child climbing tree activity by kozie clothes
  • Tends to bump, crash, bang, or throws self into other things

  • Poor endurance, weak muscles, sits in W position

  • Poor fine motor skills and manipulation of objects

  • Likes tight clothing

  • Uncoordinated movements, poor motor planning skills

  • Slumps at desk, leans on objects to support self, poor posture

  • Constantly fidgets with objects

  • Chews hard, steps hard, difficulty grading force of self or with objects

  • Clumsy

  • Chews and bites objects

  • Tends to be excessively rough

  • Walks on tiptoes

  • Balance issues

  • Avoids movements, play, or activities

  • Writes too hard, difficulty with grip

  • May affect academic performance

  • Trouble in crowds

  • Difficulty reading


ACTIVITIES SUGGESTIONS TO HELP PROVIDE VALUABLE INPUT THROUGH THE PROPRIOCEPTIVE SENSORY SYSTEM


These activities will involve weight bearing, resistance, lifting, cardiovascular, and deep pressure; all engage the Proprioceptive Sensory System. This system (which does not act in isolation) is generally so much fun to work with, the associated activities are endless and the effects are so positive. Proprioceptive input can be very calming, alerting (for those that need to increase attention and learning), contribute to emotional and behavior regulation, and decrease stress and anxiety.

Proprioceptive System child jumping rope outside by kozie clothes
  • Trampoline

  • Digging

  • Playdough/Clay

  • Yoga

  • Playground equipment

  • Hopscotch

  • Bike riding

  • Hill and Rock climbing

  • Kart wheels

  • Building a fort

  • Gardening

  • Stirring batter

  • Tug of war

  • Skipping

  • Sac races, three legged races

  • Swimming

  • Climb a tree

  • Playing twister

  • Pogo stick

  • Jump rope

  • Put many activities together in a fun filled obstacle course

  • Obstacle courses that involve crawling, jumping, walking, wheelbarrow, climbing, etc.

  • Help to clean up by pushing, sweeping, yard work, etc.

  • Weighted resources, blankets, compression clothing, weighted vests, etc.

  • Large arm motions such as throwing, painting large vertical surfaces

  • Manipulation of toys such as legos, clay, coloring with crayons, knitting weaving

  • And so many more

**Again, always take note how certain activities affect your child. Look for what works and what may over stimulate. To calm your child, perform activities that are weight bearing and more static or slower paced such as yoga, tree climbing, planks, rock climbing, hiking, massage, and using weighted resources.

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