Vision is a total-body project. A good eye doctor will be able to determine the health of an eye in isolation. That is their job. A good Strength & Conditioning Coach will be able to determine the quality of your vision as it pertains to the entire body.
Vision is quite simple. It collects light from our environment, sends it to the brain and then the brain tells us what we are looking at. I explained this in more detail in my blog post, Sports Vision Training. But now it’s time to peel the onion back some more.
Your visual system is the most developed sense, and it’s not even close. It even has an extra layer in the brain. That means, when there is a deficit somewhere else in the system, guess who is first in line to pick up the slack.
For example, in the developed world, we walk all day on smooth, polished surfaces. There isn’t much need to adjust to the surface below our feet. We may even be wearing some heavenly shoes that feel as though we are floating on clouds. I’m sure those Nikes look great but your sensory input system coming from your feet has now gone to sleep and now, you have a problem because that’s a system you want to be awake. With this system asleep, there is a gap in your body’s stability. It’s a gap that will likely be filled by your visual system. It will narrow your visual field and try to hold on to the world via your eyes. This is a lot like when your first-grade gym teacher was teaching you balance and told you to pick a spot on the ground and stare at it. They were teaching you to be dysfunctional. They should have told you to close your eyes instead.
Well, if you narrow the visual field enough, your eyes will eventually stay that way causing a symptom called myopia, AKA, nearsightedness. You will also want to consider adding a lot of variety in your exercise programs to start tearing down that embedded pattern.
To reverse the curse, you simply must get back all of that stability you once had.
Here are three eye exercises you can do to start improving your vision.
- Single Leg Deadlift: This is a simple exercise, but in this case, we are attacking vision so we have to keep our eyes open but don’t look at anything. Meaning, don’t stare at one spot on the ground. Use your peripheral vision. See the entire room. Pay attention to feeling your feet on the ground. That’s where you want to get your stability. It will be much harder to balance this way but that should signal to you that you’re on the right path. If you are more unstable, this tells me we have taken away the bad stability and are injecting it with the GREAT stability.
- Rotational Row: In the social media generation, our eyes have taken over. Most of us can’t even feel our bodies move through space which is a critical component to allowing the eyes to do their job. I like to do this exercise with my eyes closed so that the visual system is completely out of the picture and I work hard to feel my hips and ribs move through space. I want to become hyper aware of this movement because this is usually replaced by more vision. Slow and steady here and a ton of focus on feeling the muscles work.
- High Side Plank: 5 out of 6 eye muscles are attached to a bone inside of your skull called the sphenoid. A lot of eye problems result from this bone becoming stuck and tugging at those muscles. A little secret for you to remember is that if you can move your ribs, you can probably get this bone to move too. The high side plank yanks your ribs down on one side while the other side relaxes. This is a staple of single leg stance, the holy grail of fitness. Press through the ground with your down hand and reach out with your top arm.
Getting these exercises into your workout routines will be a really helpful start but if you’re serious about correcting your vision, you should start also consider understanding how you deal with stress.
At 4A, we use the genMAX model of training to tear down visual system dysfunction. We attack vision at its core functions and rebuild it in every exercise that we do. We spend a great deal of time assessing this system and building a workout program revolving around high quality visual function.