Try these 4 simple exercises that will help create smooth eye and head motion.
I did a little YouTube video research in preparation for writing this post, and there is absolutely nothing out there on the cranial nerves for the average person. It’s all for people in medical school!
What is wrong with this picture????
I think regular old run of the mill people want to know about their bodies and how they work. I’m so glad you are here with me! Together we can learn about our bodies not because something is wrong, but because we want to enjoy them more and use them better for longer.
The video above guides you through an exercise activating 4 of the 6 eye muscles:
- Medial rectus muscle (moves the eye inward toward the nose)
- Inferior rectus muscle (moves the eye down)
- Superior rectus muscle (moves the eye up)
- Inferior oblique muscle (moves the eye up and out)
The special sauce is: are you letting this nerve do its job, or are you trying to open and move your eyes with other muscles that have nothing to do with it like:
- Shoulder and arm muscles
- Back muscles
- Breathing muscles (what? You mean holding my breath doesn’t help me see better?)
- Leg muscles.
The video above is a great warm up for any physical activity you do for fun or exercise. Let me tell you why spending so much time on simple movements like this – clearing out unnecessary tension – can improve your movement and posture so much.
Taken together, these 4 muscles allow you (if you are sighted or partially sighted) to do three very important things:
1) Saccades: These are rapid movements of your eye that happen below your sensory awareness. Your eyes jump from spot to spot (up to 3 spots per second!), helping your brain compose an image. This is the first thing that a baby’s eyes do – it’s amazing to watch!
2) Smooth pursuit: This kind of motion allows your eye to track a moving object – your own body, or something that you are interested in within your environment. This ability will be almost the same as an adult by 4-5 months old in the average developmental process for infants.
3) Fixation: This is your ability to fix your gaze on an object, even when your own body is in motion. Much beloved by dancers and athletes, this is a profoundly organizing function of your eye and can boost coordination and action planning. Dancers us it for turning without getting disoriented. Scientists speculate that this developed for hunting prey, but I can’t imagine how we would even be able to pick up a berry and put it in our mouth without it.
These three (rather simplified) separate visual system abilities allow us to do an unbelievable variety of things. Just try picking up your cup of coffee in the morning, brushing your teeth, or doing one sun salutation and see what’s going on in your visual system. The more you free up your eyes to do their thing with out the rest of your body interfering, the easier it will all be.
Want to experience an overview of the first 9 cranial nerves? I’m leading a special workshop to raise funds for the Judith Leibowitz Scholarship Fund, go HERE to register. The JLSF pays 50% of the tuition costs for black, indigenous, and people of color to train as Alexander Technique teachers.