Weekly musings, 2/4/18: Eyes and observation
A client came in recently, frustrated that his low back was bothering him. As I had him do some gently mobility work, I chatted with him about which positions seemed to cause him the most discomfort. “Standing up,” he said. “Particularly getting up out of a chair or the car.”
This client happens to be a writer, and he spends a fair amount of time on his iPad or laptop. I set up a box that was a little bit higher than than hip level. “Stand up and sit down twice for me please,” I instructed. He winced a little bit on the way up. “That hurts,” he said.
“Okay, the next time you do it, look up and forward before you stand.” A smile spread across his face as he stood. “That doesn’t hurt at all,” he said, clearly pleased. After doing a few more and performing different types of basic get-ups throughout the session, he left with the clear correlation of that using his eyes to initiate his movements significantly reduced or eliminated his pain (at least for the time being).
There are several muscles that control movement at the eye. The eye, like many body parts, is able to move a variety of ways, including up, down, away from the nose, and towards the nose.
In addition, the eye plays a key role in our brain’s ability to understand where we are located in space. If we aren’t using the full action of our eyes, our sense of our body position will be altered. This will change how we perform certain movements. In this particular client’s case, looking down was altering how his brain organized his spine to stand up. (It doesn’t help that the head sits on top of the skeleton. Head position is partially determined by eye position, which influences the position of the spinal column).
Basically, the eyes matter. So, too, does listening to the person in front of you. I knew changing the eye position could potentially have a significant influence on this particular client’s experience because of the questions I asked and my ability to listen.