TURNING YOUR HEAD EASILY BY USING YOUR EYES: AN EXPLORATION OF THE 6th CRANIAL NERVE, THE ABDUCENS
You can’t turn your head easily if you have a stiff neck. You aren’t able to be fully aware of your surroundings when you can’t turn your head, and that’s scary. Your ability to move and be aware of what is happening around your body is impaired. The fear is often just below your level of consciousness, but it still affects your emotional state and your posture. We take the ability to turn our heads for granted until it’s gone!
I have an easy solution that will work even if you have a few fused vertebrae in your neck, like some of my clients do, or if you have other issues like arthritis or pinched nerves that are healing. The important thing is to not force motion in your neck at all.
Learn how to use your eyes to turn your head, instead of your neck, in this weeks video. The 6 step exercise shows you how to move your eyes first, and your body second. This will indirectly improve the turning motion of head and neck and ease your shoulders, ribs, and breathing. Once you practice these steps a few times, all it takes is 2 minutes to vastly improve your mobility! In addition to the exercise, you will learn about the cranial nerve that is responsible for the abduction (movement away from your midline) of your eyes.
The 6th cranial, or abducens nerve controls the lateral rectus muscle located on the outer side of the eye. It rotates your eye away from midline & retracts your eye for protection from impact. The lateral rectus can be sometimes be affected by palsy or be weakened by other factors. This, causes your eyes to crosses inward toward your nose causing double vision. My eyes, when at rest, tend to cross. I have to work harder than the average person to focus. I’ve happily spent spent extra time working with my visual system to make sure I don’t overstrain because the payoff is huge.
Tightness or differences in your visual system can translate into neck stiffness. Make sure that you take time during the day to enjoy a 360 panoramic view of your surroundings periodically. Your neck is guaranteed to move more easily, no matter what the issue causing the tightness is, if you do.
Also, look to out on the horizon and to each side, and turn around from time to time! I even do this when I am out for a walk or a run. I’ll be running or walking and turning around at the same time – my friends call it “Clare-icise.” I know it looks a little odd, but it feels so good to my body when I am in “moving forward through space” mode.
We all have habitual preferences in our visual system. Once you become aware of these habits, they change very easily. Many of us look a little bit down toward the ground, our phones, or our computer screens for most of the day. This really affects our posture, breathing, and movement patterns for the worse over time. It doesn’t have to be that way! If you need more structured support for making some changes in how you move through your day, don’t hesitate to reach out and book a 15 minute free consult.