Objective: To discuss the role of proprioception in motor control and in activation of the dynamic restraints for functional joint stability.
Data sources: Information was drawn from an extensive MEDLINE search of the scientific literature conducted in the areas of proprioception, motor control, neuromuscular control, and mechanisms of functional joint stability for the years 1970-1999.
Data synthesis: Proprioception is conveyed to all levels of the central nervous system. It serves fundamental roles for optimal motor control and sensorimotor control over the dynamic restraints.
Conclusions/applications: Although controversy remains over the precise contributions of specific mechanoreceptors, proprioception as a whole is an essential component to controlling activation of the dynamic restraints and motor control. Enhanced muscle stiffness, of which muscle spindles are a crucial element, is argued to be an important characteristic for dynamic joint stability. Articular mechanoreceptors are attributed instrumental influence over gamma motor neuron activation, and therefore, serve to indirectly influence muscle stiffness. In addition, articular mechanoreceptors appear to influence higher motor center control over the dynamic restraints. Further research conducted in these areas will continue to assist in providing a scientific basis to the selection and development of clinical procedures.