Eyes on the Prize – Keeping your Gaze Neutral

We’ve all heard the expression, “Keep your eyes on the prize!” Right? Well, not only is this quote motivational, it’s also a great reminder to focus on proper posture and your gaze neutral during your workouts. And in this case, “the prize” just happens to be a happier — and healthier — body!

This week during your Gixo workouts, we challenge you to focus on keeping your eyes forward. Avoid looking at your feet or gazing up at the clouds. Instead, keep your gaze directly forward. Believe us, your entire body will thank you for it.

Here’s why… Imagine you’re running, and with every step you’re watching your feet hit the ground. This means your head is straining, pointed down. How does the rest of your body compensate? Chances are you’re slumping your shoulders, rounding your back, and tightening up through your chest. This causes your head to move forward, shifting it out of alignment with your spine. Not good.

slouching vs. neutral gaze posture

According to dailyburn.com, “Tilting your head forward 15 degrees places an additional 27 pounds on your cervical spine!” Not only is that a huge waste of energy, but it puts your neck under stress and causes other problems throughout the rest of your body. This forward-leaning posture is associated with knee injuries, ankle sprains, bunions, and lower back and hip problems.

Now let’s look at the opposite scenario. You stop mid-run to perform squats, and tilt your head slightly, looking upward towards the sky. How does your body respond in this case? You’re shortening the back of your neck muscles and lengthening the front. Like a gymnast saluting the judges you are encouraging an overly arched back, disengaged abs, and a puffed out rib cage. Down the road this can cause neck, lower back, and knee issues.

It really does pay to stay conscious of your gaze, and look ahead — with intention. With this simple adjustment, you can dramatically improve the shape and health of your body.

The good news is your body wants to be aligned. A little bit of conscious effort goes a long way over time. During your next workout, pay attention. Imagine someone is pulling your entire body up like a marionette by the top of your head. Relax your traps (the muscles between your neck and shoulders), let your shoulder blades slide down toward your hips, and engage your abs. Now your neck and spine are in better alignment.  When your posture improves, your body will feel more in balance, and you’ll actively prevent injury.

Sometimes your focus — and your eyes — will wander during your workouts. If you notice this happening, remember to draw your attention back to your gaze and posture. Keep your eyes on the prize, and your body will thank you.