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Is Looking at Your Screens Doing This To You?



Take this quick quiz:

Can you move your eyes without moving your head and neck?


Hmmm…


Give it a try. 

  • Turn just your eyes to the right. Come back to center.

  • Turn just your eyes to the left. Come back to center.

  • Move just your eyes to look down.

  • Move just your eyes to look up.


How did you do?  Were you able to move just your eyes without moving your head and neck?  Unsure?  Try again.


According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, six eye muscles control eye movement. One muscle moves the eye to the right, and one muscle moves the eye to the left. The other four muscles move the eye up, down, and at an angle.


Why is this important?


To move your eyes from side to side requires just two muscles.  To move your eyes up, down, and down requires just four.  If every time you look right or left just 30 degrees and you must turn your neck to accomplish this, you also use about 3-5 neck and the eye muscles.


Depending on the flexibility of these neck muscles, you may also be moving your ribs and shoulders while just trying to look 30 degrees to the right or left, which could be accomplished with just two muscles.  This does not sound very efficient, and there is potential for excessive wear and tear on the neck.


A study published in 2022 talks about the fascia continuum, which includes a soft tissue connection between the deep neck, the top of the head, and the eyeballs.


Many of us, older and very young, spend much of our time looking at screens. Sometimes very tiny screens.  While there are many other issues regarding extended screen time from physical to psychosocial today, we will focus on the lack of eye movement required while using these screens and how this may contribute to neck, shoulder, or upper back discomfort and what you can do about it.


Try another quick test.


  • Turn your head to look to the right. Come back to center.

  • Turn your head to look to the left. Come back to center.

  • Bring your chin down to your chest. Come back to center.


Repeat each of those but before you move your head, move your eyes in that direction first.

Did you find that you could move your head and neck slightly further?  Did it feel ‘easier’ to move?


What we repeatedly find when working with clients, especially those who spend a lot of time in front of a screen, is if we consider the soft tissue continuum of the head, neck, and eyes, we can start to address problems with the neck, shoulders, and more.


So, what can you do about it?


  1. Take more breaks from your screen.

  2. Move your eyes.

  3. Try this simple exercise.

  4. Get in a comfortable position, sitting or lying down with your head supported.

  5. Close your eyes

  6. Gently inhale.

  7. Start your exhale and let your eyes move to the right as far as they can comfortably go.

  8. Gently inhale. Bring your eyes to center.

  9. Start the exhale and let your eyes move to the left as far as they can comfortably go.

  10. Gently inhale. Bring your eyes to center

  11. Repeat this sequence 3 times in each direction.

  12. Go slow.

  13. Recheck your neck motion. Does it feel any easier?

Not every exercise is right for everyone. Some people can be sensitive to these movements.  If you find you are sensitive to it we recommend not doing it.


If you noted improvement and no adverse response use this during your day and see if you notice less neck, shoulder, or upper back tension.


If you are looking for information on this topic and direction for what is right for you from an exercise perspective to help you successfully do the things you need, want, and love to do, reach out.  We can help.

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