Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2013

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BODY WORK FOR THE EYES glasses that slide down the nose tend to create an anterior head tilt, and ear pieces that are too tight can restrict the motion of the temporal bones. According to Jack Holladay, clinical professor of ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine, it is very difficult to arrive at the correct eyeglass prescription, and optometrist Stephen Gallop believes most prescriptions are too strong, which leads to chronic tension around the eyes and head.21 Bifocals and trifocals can further affect posture. Half-frame and bifocal glasses force the wearer to pull the head up and backward to look through the lower part of the lens. Trifocals can lead to painful and stiff posterior cervical muscles when the person has to continually adjust the neck position to see through the middle portion.22 Cocking the head to avoid the reflection of overhead lights in the eyeglasses can chronically strain the sternocleidomastoid and suboccipital muscles, and contact-lens wearers may develop painful and stiff posterior cervical muscles from holding the head in a cocked position to avoid glare.23 Most people will avoid rolling their eyes away from the optical center so they don't have to see their eyeglass frame. This fixation or locking of the eyes tends to tense the extraocular muscles, and—according to Thomas Myers, developer of Anatomy Trains—freeze the suboccipital muscles into hyperextension and thereby create a posterior head tilt.24 HELPING CLIENTS WITH VISIONRELATED CHALLENGES The first step in helping a client whose visual habits are causing chronic tension or discomfort in the eyes, face, neck, shoulders, or spine is to make him or her aware that this could be an issue. 88 massage & bodywork Step 1. Include vision-related questions in your intake form. • "Do you have chronic neck and shoulder tension?" • "Do you wear glasses?" • "Do they feel comfortable for you?" • "Do you have any of the following: trouble seeing, eyestrain at work, discomfort after working on a computer, vision problems, light sensitivity, dry eyes, or headaches?" Step 2. Check for tension. Everyone wearing glasses should be checked for tension in the eyes, neck, and spine. Try testing the range of motion in your client's neck, both with and without glasses. Step 3. Address tension during a session. Begin the session by helping the client relax the eyes. Consider drawing curtains or dimming the room lights. This is often very soothing for someone with light sensitivity or an eye condition, such as macular november/december 2013 degeneration. Cover the eyes with a warm or cold eye pillow, a warmed towel, or a hot and cold contrast treatment. Begin by having the client consciously relax the eyes. For example, ask the client to inhale and squeeze the muscles surrounding the eyes tightly, hold for a few moments, then exhale and relax the muscles completely. Repeat two more times. Ask the client to stretch the eyes by looking in different directions. Then, add more specific massage techniques with work around the eyes during the first few minutes of the session. Some excellent massage techniques include: • Face tapping/tapotement on the forehead and around the eyes. • Acupressure around the eye orbits. Classic acupressure points for eye tension are on the back of the neck (the Bladder 10 points). • Swedish massage on the posterior neck. • Trigger-point work on the rectus capitis posterior muscles, which counteracts the fixing of the suboccipitals. • Craniosacral therapy. Step 4. Provide guidance for selftreatment. Show clients how to treat their eye and neck tension at home with warm and cool packs for the eyes, eye muscle stretches, and self-massage. Step 5. Encourage clients to check their workstations. Ergonomics at work and home are crucial. For example, to avoid chronic strain in the posterior cervical muscles, the

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