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  • Writer's pictureAnna Buchanan

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize





Spring’s arrival for me means searching the store aisles for pastel, bunny-head Easter jujubes and toys for outdoor play. To this day, skipping ropes, all types of balls and colorful chalk make my inner eight-year-old excited to get outside, play and have fun. As a Mom, I loved watching from the kitchen window as my kids played on a dry, snow-free driveway, having pulled out forgotten toys from seasons before. Deflated, dusty and a little stiff – not that playful kids notice - it would take a bit before all the balls were bouncing everywhere. So fun!


The time between winter and spring sports offered them space for free play and carefree jumping, chasing and catching. Being a movement geek, I appreciate how this type of freeform movement benefits performance. It turns out that we can distill the essence of kid play and utilize its benefits for our adult fitness goals. Balance, hand-eye coordination, timing and tracking are all relevant skills for grown-up activities such as golf, running, racquet/bat sports, soccer, heck even aggressive gardening, where you play basketball with weeds in a bucket.


One way to strengthen this skill set is by simply using your eyeballs in a deliberate way. This training benefits the vestibular ocular reflex (VOR) and as such, are called a VOR drills. They progress in difficulty and work by firing up sensors for spatial awareness and stimulate balance in the feet and inner ear. Add in the eye tracking and gaze maintenance on a specific target and it becomes a tidy

(and wobbly) training package for timing and coordination.


These simple drills are used in concussion rehab, through to elite athletes who aim to keep a competitive edge. And these accessible drills are tools for the average, active adult, who wishes to keep their own edge sharp, maintaining balance and coordination for activities and life, as we age. When practiced regularly, these exercises positively influence spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination and balance. Hello functional body awareness! 


Whether your aim is better balance for functional health or keeping your edge sharp for sport performance, they are quick additions that can be added to your training schedule. 

Let’s try it out together!




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2 Comments


Guest
Mar 29

Interesting. At our Senior’s Luncheon the exercise for the day was to exercise our eyes. We forget that the eyes need exercise as well. Very much the same except in sitting position.

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Guest
Mar 29
Replying to

That's a good reminder: these exercises are just as effective when done from a seated position!

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