The Eyes Have It: Balance Issues and Core stability problems

Aren’t those beautiful eyes?
Vision is a really big deal when it comes to organizing motor control. Just ask Kat. Kat came in last week to see me because her body was strangely twisted and she was having difficulty with some movements, back pain and knee pain.

Eye Movement Dysfunctions

 Kat has been following me posts on Instagram about scar rehabilitation and thought some of what she was dealing with might be related to her many surgical scars, especially her c-section scar. And indeed the c-section scar is causing some problems. However, the real loss of core stability came around her eyes! I did a series of tests to confirm that we should be working on eye movement before starting; but it was clear to both of us that the left eye was pretty dysfunctional when I asked her to look to the left without moving her body and she just couldn’t. Even attempting to do it made her very wobbly.

Eye movement dysfunction can cause full body compenstations

Neurons devoted to visual processing take up about 30% of the cortex. Touch takes up just 8%, and hearing 3%. We are REALLY invested in vision, and in the information it provides for us to function. And when our eye muscles aren’t able to do their job to move our eyeballs around, the rest of our body will start to twist and contort to make it easier for us to get that visual information.  In particular the neck muscles start to work differently and there is research to support this coupling. The core will then coordinate to the changes in the neck and so on, all the way through the system.

Eye Muscle issues can present in lots of ways

Eye muscles (like all the other muscles in the body) get stuck in short or long positions. This makes them unable to coordinate with other muscles. The eye muscles that are dysfunctional can then present a number of different symptoms.

  • They might feel stiff or tender to gentle pressure. Just as neck or shoulder muscles that don’t know how to work efficiently will get trigger points in them causing neck pain and shoulder pain, eye muscles can feel painful as well.
  • The tight eye muscles sometimes result in twitchy eyes or floaters in the eye. Floaters are sometimes caused by a lack of proper bloodflow, which can be caused by lack of proper muscular contraction and relaxation.
  • The difficulty these muscles are having will often be evident in the eye movements -stuttery or slow movement, hesitations, the inability to move the eye into certain positions.
  • There might be a lack of stability in the rest of the body when looking in certain directions. There are strong connections between motor control and visual processing.
  • Dizziness and lack of balance are common symptoms.
  • Looking in the direction the dysfunctional muscles are intended to be used for is tiring; often the eyes will squint or water.
  • Frequent headaches, even migraines can be caused by eye movement dysfunction.
  • Neck movements will often be compensating, causing chronic neck and shoulder pain.
  • In more extreme cases they can result in double vision,
    lazy eye (amblyopia), crossed eyes (strabismus), shaky vision, and involuntary eye movements (nystagmus).

Releasing and retraining eye muscles can result in dramatic changes in posture

Motor control is constantly coordinated. Once an obstacle to better motor control is eliminated, the motor control center reorganizes within moments. This can happen with a bit of shaking or some time in regular movements such as walking. This is integration. Sometimes integration needs to be careful and deliberate, other times it happens naturally. 

We released Kat’s eye muscles and she spent a bit of time practicing looking in the direction she’s been having trouble with while keeping her head still. She will have to continue doing these exercises for the next few days. When she went to stand up she was particularly wobbly. She had to watch her feet in order to walk. Loss of stability is a normal response at the beginning of integration. You can read more about that process on my blog.  This only lasted a minute. After five more minutes she was 1) walking normally 2) her posture was less twisted 3) she was more steady on her feet.  Her posture had changed dramatically from a few minutes release of a tiny eye muscle.

Assessments available in Kitchener Waterloo

If you have twitchy or tired eyes, headaches, migraines, eye floaters or think you might have an eye movement disorder, contact me. You can book an Initial Assessment online, or contact me by email at tara@tarakachroo.ca