We previously highlighted what neurosensory is and why it is generally important. Besides decreasing your risk of falling as mentioned in our previous post on neurosensory, it can improve physical performance such as in dance and sports. Furthermore, neurosensory can help with pain management. However, neurosensory is still something commonly overlooked. Read on to find out why you should maybe incorporate more neurosensory into your daily life! 

In an applied setting, neurosensory is achieved mostly through textured materials, such as textured insoles and textured mats. Improvements in performance in sports or dance settings (or even a general setting) mainly comes from improved proprioception – a neuromuscular sense commonly referred to as the ‘sixth sense’, which essentially refers to the conscious awareness of our body and limbs (including the sense of active or passive motion, the sense of our limb position, and the sense of heaviness). There is also an unconscious component where proprioceptive signals are used for the reflexive control of muscle tone and the control of posture. 

Proprioceptive training has been shown to yield meaningful improvements in both somatosensory and sensorimotor function. In the same light, using neurosensory to improve proprioception will thus improve performance in sport and exercise settings as proprioception plays an important role in balance control, in which better balance is strongly positively associated with enhanced athletic performance and negatively associated with lower limb sports injuries. This is not an exhaustive list, but studies in the literature reporting improvements in performance include dance, football, rowing, and long-distance running. Through textured materials, say insoles for example, it improves proprioception by increasing the sensitivity of the foot. A simple example of how foot sensitivity may reduce injuries during running is for example, during your run, you are stepping on an uneven surface which may cause you to sway to one side and possibly twist your ankle. However, if your foot is ‘sensitive’, your reflexes would work quicker, allowing you to react accordingly to prevent the fall or ankle sprain. 

A sporting example of neurosensory performance is the effect of textured materials on skill performance in football. Hasan (2016) previously reported that wearing textured insoles constrained movement organisation in both skilled and less-skilled players, leading to more powerful ball kicking actions, improved performance accuracy (through accurate ball kicks). He later also found that this constrained movement organisation provided by wearing textured insoles led to an appropriate set of relative motions for the kicking task and provided an upright body posture during kicking performance and improved body stability during ball reception performance. Besides wearing textured insoles during performance, another study also reported improvements in proprioception after wearing textured insoles outside of non-class time in professional Ballet dancers (Steinberg et al., 2015). Specifically, the dancers had improved ankle proprioception in both inversion and eversion movements. This is important as ankle sprains are the most common injuries in dance. 

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Besides its effects on preventing injuries, proprioception is also important in terms of rehabilitation. Ankle injuries affecting the muscles and tendons can often lead to associated damage of inherent mechanoreceptors. This will then be detrimental for the quality of proprioceptive information required for balance control. If no proper rehabilitation is done, an ankle injury can hence subsequently lead to long-term deterioration of postural and balance control. The use of textured materials has been reported to improve performance, such as textured balance board training improving ankle discrimination in ballet dancers with chronic ankle instability (Steinberg et al., 2018). Similarly, it was reported that the use of textured insoles decreased ankle movement variability in athletes with functional ankle instability (Jamali et al., 2019).

Neurosensory can thus improve performance and as Naboso nicely put, it can “Activate, strengthen, recover”. Besides textured insoles, mats, socks and more, Naboso now also offers Sensory Sticks, allowing you to improve your hands’ ‘sensitivity’!

As mentioned earlier, neurosensory is something commonly overlooked in training and maybe it is time to incorporate some proprioception training into your regime and see how it helps! Feel free to reach out to us as always if you want more information.  

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