by Kusha Karvandi
As I mentioned previously, training your muscles/joints is only training one system. And you will get the best results with a three-pronged approach.
Vision and inner ear balance (vestibular)
Since your brain prioritizes information from your eyes and inner ear before everything else, making sure these systems are working correctly is a must. Not to mention that sitting at a desk all day gives either no stimulus or a poor stimulus to the eyes and inner ear. Since the brain uses information from these systems to keep your strong and mobile (even before it uses the information from the muscles and joints) when dysfunction is present it will surely manifest as pain, tightness, decreased strength, etc. and usually chronically.
To fix this, do the following (these exercises are extremely effective and can be done anywhere):
1. Eye circles: hold a pen at arms length while sitting or standing upright and follow the pen with your eyes only in three large circles in each direction. Be careful not to go out of your line of sight, the pen should be in focus and clear the entire time.
2. Pen Push Ups: hold a pen at arms’ length and bring it toward your nose while focusing on the pen with both eyes. When the pen splits into two, pause, then push the pen back out. Do 3 slow reps only.
3. VOR Drill (Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex Drill, for the inner ear): hold a pen at arms’ length and keep your eyes focused on the pen as you rotate your head from left to right. Make sure both eyes can see the pen clearly the entire time. Do three head rotations.
The exercises discussed here do not need to be performed exorbitantly to be effective. Completing “perfect reps” is the goal. Typically one set of 3-10 reps of each exercise is effective, and should be performed 3-6 times per day to retrain the brain. Again, by doing these exercises often you are reprogramming your brain to keep you out of pain, hormones optimized, joints mobile, muscles strong, etc.
For the reasons aforementioned, your ability to tolerate all stress will be optimized. This is especially important to consider for those who avoid traditional exercise. The reason they avoid exercise is because their brain has reached its allostatic load limit, basically their stress bucket is full. And since exercise (especially strenuous exercise) is a stressor, more people typically leave the gym feeling worse than when they got there.
By doing these exercises throughout the day (and as a warm up), one can begin opening up their options for activity (which will enhance their overall well-being). You have started biohacking your fitness!