top of page


If you are a regular participant at Transformations Studio you will hear the terms “sense” as applied to a particular structure of the human form. In classes we might say “sense” where the bottom tip of your scapula is in relationship to the ribcage, is it wider than the ribcage or behind the ribcage? I would like to simplify what is meant when we use the term “sense” this way. There are many different definitions for the verb sense. To sense can mean to “perceive by the sense or senses, to be aware, to observe”. We are using the term “sense” interchangeably with the idea of observing or noticing. So when we suggest that you “sense” something, we are suggesting that you bring your conscious awareness to the area by observing or noticing the space. I would like to clarify for you, however, the difference between sensing, as it applies to the activity of the body of receiving information to the brain via the sensory nerves and observing/noticing.

Sensing in the body is not a conscious activity. Sensing occurs when information travels along the sensory nerve pathways in the body and the information reaches the brain. The sensory information travels from the body into the brain without our consciousness or control. The nerve signal that is sent to the brain is a binary one, meaning that it is the same signal being sent all of the time. The consistency of signaling lulls the brain into an impression of stability and safe-keeping. The same signal is being sent from the nerve when a joint is opening or closing. The same signal is being sent from the nerve when fascia is hydrated or not hydrated. The same signal is being sent from the nerve when a muscle we have is a “sore muscle” or we don’t notice the muscle at all. When your back hurts and when it doesn’t hurt, the nerve sends the same signal to the brain!!!!!! The only true difference in the signal to the brain when we “feel” our back hurting is its rate of speed. When our consciousness becomes aware of a sensory signal, the nerve signal has changed volume. There is a greater number of stimuli in a shorter period of time causing the nerve to be stimulated enough to reach the nerve threshold. As the nerve reaches its nerve threshold this triggers a change of rate of speed of the sensory signal. This speed change of the nerve signal is novel and therefore gets the brain’s conscious awareness. In order for us to be consciously aware of anything new in our body there has to be enough change in the volume of the input of the nerve signal to get our brain’s attention that something is different. Normally the novelty of the change of input would trigger the attention of our conscious brain in order to help us update the brain map for efficiency of movement, or to react appropriately to the signal to ensure the body’s health and well-being.

What Can We Actually Sense?

Most of us are familiar with the basic senses – sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing but currently science has discovered that the brain receives information from the body about these 19 different senses.

  1. Sight/Light

  2. Infrared

  3. Ultraviolet Light

  4. Cosmic Rays

  5. Electromagnetic (EMF) waves

  6. Airbourne Ionic changes

  7. Atmospheric pressure

  8. Magnetic Orientation

  9. Vestibular – Inner sense of equilibrium

  10. Balance and Movement (Proprioception)

  11. Smell

  12. Taste

  13. Sound

  14. Gravity Awareness

  15. Object Orientation (how near or far something is)

  16. Wet or Dry

  17. Air currents

  18. External Temperature

  19. Contact Pressure (Touch)

Let me bring your attention to a few items that are not on the list above.

We do not have a sense of our muscles being tight or loose, weak or strong or contracted or relaxed. This is because muscle tissue primarily consists of motor nerves, nerves which deliver information from the brain to the muscles to stimulate movement or change of position. Sensory nerves that are located in the muscle are called muscle spindles. Wikipedia defines muscle spindles as “sensory receptors within the belly of a muscle that primarily detect changes in the length of this muscle. They convey length information to the central nervous system via sensory neurons.” The ratio of sensory to motor nerves in the different muscles varies. In small muscles used for fine motor control, for example muscles around the eyes and fingers, we have a greater number of muscle spindles (sensory nerve receptors). Larger muscles that are responsible for gross motor movement and posture have a smaller number of sensory nerve receptors in them. This is demonstrated in the photo below of the body. The body parts that are the largest have the greatest number of sensory nerves.

If we were able to sense our muscles well, simply based on the amount of sensory nerves we have in an area, we would have a terrific sense and awareness of our eye muscles, lips, tongue, hand and finger muscles. To this date, I have yet to hear anyone complain of a tight, long or short eye muscle. I have also never heard anyone say my finger muscles are sore and tight, yet complaints about the tight hamstrings, back or neck muscles are a regular occurrence.