ChiRunning, Your Eyes and Your Vision
You probably know that exercise helps your heart, lungs, digestion, and immune system, but did you know that ChiRunning can greatly increase your eye health?
More and more studies show that exercise is great for your eyes.
One doc, in a NY Times article said “it’s beginning to look like we may have this other method” — exercise — “that costs almost nothing and results in you making your own growth factors, which is so much safer and more pleasant than having a needle stuck into your eyeball.”
The growth factors he mentions are created when you exercise. These growth factors, and one in particular called B.D.N.F., can improve and protect your eyesight.
All great news for walkers, runners and walk-runners.
When we teach ChiRunning®, many people notice that good posture changes the line of their eyesight. Before lifting the crown of your head, your chin is most likely slightly lifted. Notice, right now, where your chin is, then gently lift through the back of the neck and lift your crown (the back of the top of your head) into the air. Don’t push or force. Just a gentle lift. Your chin will come down slightly when you do this…and so will your line of vision.
We call this gentle tucking of the chin, the determined chin. It is a position of greater inner strength and stability.
What we teach in ChiRunning® is great for the eyes because you will need to learn to move your eyes from what might otherwise be a frozen line of vision
The eyes, like your body, need movement. The worst thing for them is to stare at a computer screen, frozen and keeping the same distance of vision for too long. What is best for your eyes is to look regularly at different distances and in different directions. It’s like yoga for the eyes.
You can practice yoga of the eyes anytime, gently rolling the eyeballs in the head, consciously looking at what is around you. Or moving the eyes back in forth at different levels of the room or landscape while keeping your head still.
In ChiRunning®, when you lift through the crown of your head for better posture, you’ll find your normal line of where your eyes rest is now down on the ground. To look up, you don’t want to life your chin, but move your eyeballs to look up.
We recommend you keep your head still and move your eyeballs more to look around, look at different distances, view the world and take it in.
Here are some recommendations to help support your eyes when you’re Chi running, walking and walk-running:
- Notice how good posture changes the line and trajectory of your site. That is good! It should be different. Use it as a reminder to move and use your eyeballs while your running or walking.
- Consciously look at different distances while you’re out exercising. Look at close details of leaves, store fronts, people around you, then look at a mid range distance and notice as much detail as you can, then look as far away as you can. Notice the shape and texture of clouds, the color and texture of the sky. Without straining, look as far away as you can.
- Also, practice expanding your peripheral vision. See how wide you can expand your side vision, so that you are aware of what is in front of your, but also what is around you. How much can you notice at one time?
- Blink regularly. Blinking is good for your eyes and should be done more regularly.
- Y’chi is the practice of using your eyes to focus on an object and allow that focus to pull you towards it. This is best done when you have some confidence in your ChiRunning® technique.
- Use your eyes to notice how smooth your running form is. When you practice ChiRunning®, the midfoot strike and pelvic rotation give you a smoother stride. Your eyes will help you determine if you are bouncing up and down, or running smoothly. Use your vision as a reminder to practice good running technique.
- After a run, close your eyes during your stretching, allowing your eyes to rest. Closing your eyes also gives you better inner awareness and will allow you to listen more closely to your body as you stretch and cool down.
How your eyesight improves your personal vision for your self is a subject for another article, but suffice it to say, they are deeply connected. When you improve your running and fitness, you are improving your eyesight as well as the vision you have for your self as a human being.
Taken together, these experiments strongly suggest that “exercise protects vision, at least in mice, by increasing B.D.N.F. in the retina,” said Jeffrey Boatright, an associate professor of ophthalmology at Emory University School of Medicine