Did you know that the only living tissue of the body exposed to the world are your eyes? Your hair, fingernails, toenails, and outer layer of skin are no longer living. With the exception of your eyes, all living tissue is protected by a barrier of dead cells. The eyes do so much for us it is hard to list them all. They allow us to take in information and record it indefinitely. They protect us from threats when objects come near. We use our vision to avoid bumping into things and getting hurt. The eyes inform us where we are in space. Are we tilting, right side up or upside down?
The eyes are also one of the key factors in our posture. If one eye is dominant, there might be a need to subtly rotate the body to accommodate the imbalance. If the eyes have a hard time focusing on objects, it might create a subtle tendency to lean forward and, over time, our posture may reflect that. In the long run, this potential distortion to our posture can bring about joint pain and soft tissue issues. All because the muscles of the eyes were not performing at their most ideal. Wait! What? Are you implying that retraining the muscles of the eyes could help my low back pain or shoulder issue? The answer is quite simply, yes. Eye movement is what directs body motion. So if the muscles which control eye movement are weak, it is possible that it would set up a chain reaction for the rest of the body. You can stretch all you want, but unless the visual muscles are addressed, you might not be addressing the true culprit.
Corrective eyewear is not the solution. In fact, glasses are more like a cast on a broken limb. They provide correction without demanding the surrounding muscles to wake up. If anything they cause further weakening and degradation. It is no wonder that people have to get stronger prescriptions for their eyeglasses over time. It is thought to just be part of the aging process, but what if it was because the muscles were atrophying and just needed to receive proper exercise? Glasses will also restrict natural eye motion. The rims of most glasses are opaque, so if someone needed to look wide, they would turn their head rather than their eyes. This also has a potential to reduce demand of the ocular muscles. Don’t even get me started on bifocals. The bottom line is that muscles need to be strong and work well to keep us happy and healthy, and the muscles of the eyes are no exception.
We would welcome anyone to come into the studio for a visual assessment any time. In so doing, you will find out which muscles are weak and get some exercise to help restore them to a better, stronger place. In the meantime, try these simple exercises, and see if they have any benefit to you. There needs to be a test to know whether or not they have a positive effect on you and your central nervous system (the overall governing system of the body and the best barometer to measure movement against). Try a simple toe touch or arm raise as a way of gauging if the brain liked the exercise.
With the toe touch, keep the legs straight, bend forward, and try and touch your toes. Get a feeling for what it feels like and what the range of motion is like. For the arm raise, keep both arms straight. Raise one arm at a time forward and overhead. Get a sense of which arm is more “gunked” up than the other. For testing purposes, use the arm which is more restricted to see if there is any change. Perform one of the following exercises. Retest the arm raise or toe touch and see if the movement improved. If it did, then that exercise is something you can benefit from. If it didn’t, put that exercise aside and try the others.
Exercise #1: Pencil Push Ups – Hold a pencil in one hand and extend the arm out in front of you at eye level. Focus on the pencil tip and slowly bring it toward the tip of your nose until you begin two tips. Return to the starting point and repeat five or six times.
Exercise #2: Near/Far Focus – Hold a pencil in one hand and extend the arm out in front of you at eye level. Focus on the pencil tip and then quickly focus on another object further away on a wall or off in the distance. Alternate focus between the near and far object as quickly as possible for 5-10 seconds.
Exercise #3: Eye Circles – Hold a pencil in one hand and extend the arm out in front of you at eye level. Focus on the pencil tip and begin making large clockwise circles with the pencil. After three circles, change directions for three more.
Remember to perform the toe touch or arm raise after each exercise. It is a quick and simple way to determine if there is a positive response from the central nervous system. You might be surprised how something so seemingly obscure can be the cause of so much trouble.