Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2013

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BODY WORK FOR THE EYES When doing closeup work, many people hold their head forward of center and slouch, which keeps many upper-body muscles in a shortened position. fields, changes in color perception, or reduced depth perception.10 Injuries to the Eyes or Head As with other parts of the body, local trauma can have lasting effects on soft tissues. Birth injuries, falls, motor vehicle accidents, and sports or work injuries are common causes of trauma to the eye and its surrounding structures. Trauma can activate trigger points in the muscles of the eyes or other nearby muscles, or lead to fascial restriction or cranial strain.11 Injuries such as blows to the forehead or whiplash injuries can shift the position of the cranial bones.12 According to Kenneth Frey, director of the Institute of Physical Therapy, craniosacral dysfunctions are commonly associated with a variety of visual problems, including strabismus, imbalances of the extraocular muscles, and problems with visual perception.13 Culture and Lifestyle Because early humans needed keen, responsive vision to find and pursue their prey and to escape from predators, our eyes are primarily designed for detecting motion and for distance vision in natural light.14 People living an outdoor hunter-gatherer lifestyle see more clearly than city dwellers, and children who get more outdoor exercise see better than children who get less. The enormous increase in rates of myopia—from 23 percent in 1971 to 42 percent in 2004—is now thought to be caused by our changing lifestyle, as we spend more time doing closeup work and less time outdoors. Myopia increases when we live in small spaces that restrict our vision and in intense academic environments that require a great deal of studying.15 When doing closeup work, many people hold their head forward of center and slouch, which keeps many upper-body muscles in a shortened position: visual habits are now creating whole-body strain. Computer users tend to blink very little and stare straight ahead, not using their peripheral vision.16 The greater the glare, the smaller the font size, and the lower the screen resolution, the more likely it is that the person will strain to see and risk developing myofascial trigger points in the upper trapezius.17 Prolonged twisting of the head, such as when looking at a computer screen with the head turned at an angle, may activate trigger points in the splenii muscles or promote astigmatism.18 Trigger points in the extraocular muscles can result from prolonged periods of staring straight ahead and may play an important role in both migraine and tension-type headaches.19 Wearing Corrective Lenses Corrective lenses are not human eyes, and they can have an impact on visual habits and the body. Moshe Feldenkrais claimed that because glasses change eye and neck movement in profound ways, he could feel the back of someone's neck with his eyes closed and determine whether or not the person wore glasses and how strong the prescription was in each eye.20 Many people wear glasses that are poorly fitted. Lenses with a tooshort focal length cause the person to tilt the head in sustained flexion in order to read or do other closeup work. Frames that are too high or too low on the bridge of the nose cause the person to flex the head forward or tilt the head back in order to look through the lenses, which can activate trigger points in the suboccipital, semispinalis capitis, semispinalis cervicis, and multifidi muscles. Reading See what benefits await you. 87

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