Eyes on the Prize- Keeping your Gaze Neutral

Has anyone ever told you to “keep your eyes on the prize?” Turns out that quote is both motivational and also a great reminder to help support great posture during your workouts. In this case, “the prize” is a happier and healthier body! This week focus on keeping your eyes forward. Avoid looking at your feet or gazing up at the clouds. Instead, keep your gaze directly forward and your entire body will thank you for it.

Imagine you are running and with every step you are watching your feet hit the ground; your head is looking down. How does the rest of your body compensate? When your head is looking down you have a tendency to slump your shoulders, round your back back and tighten up through the chest. This causes your head to move forward, moving it out of alignment with your spine. 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 compensations throughout the rest of your body. This forward-leaning posture is associated with knee injuries, ankle sprains, bunions, lower back and hip problems. Something as simple as the direction of your eye gaze can make a major difference in the shape and health of your body.

Now let’s look at the opposite scenario. You stop mid-run to perform squats and you tilt your head slightly looking upward towards the sky. How does your body respond? When your head is tilted up you are 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 and a puffed out rib cage. Down the road this can cause neck, lower back, and knee issues. So thinking “eyes up” may lead to issues. It’s best to stay conscious of your gaze and look ahead with intention.

The good news is your body wants to be aligned. A little bit of conscious effort goes a long way over time. Notice what you are looking toward during your next workout, and you will watch your posture improve, your body feel more in-balance, and actively prevent injury. 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.

Sometimes your focus and therefore your eyes will wander during your workouts, if you notice this happening remember to draw your attention back to your body and get those eyes back on the prize!