Don’t worry; the exercises I’m going to teach you won’t even make you break a sweat. These exercises have been designed to give your eye muscles a workout. Like every other muscle in your body, with exercise, you can strengthen your eye muscles and as a result, make them healthier and more flexible.
Stronger, more flexible eye muscles will go a long way towards improving your ability to read faster. The added strength and flexibility helps your eyes perform all the movements necessary to increase your reading speed and expand their peripheral vision.
While I’m at it, I’m also going to teach you a few tricks to help your eye muscles relax. Feel free to practice the relaxation exercises after spending time on the computer or any time your eyes feel tired or strained.
Remember, you’ll reap the most benefit if you practice these exercises regularly. So please, be sure to make time to do them. Trust me, they won’t take very long.
Remember also that while these exercises can enhance eye health, they will not do anything to correct vision that’s impaired in any way. Only your eye doctor can help with that so don’t expect any miracles.
Now, one final word of advice.
Consider doing these eye exercises where no one else can see you. To an outside observer, some of what you’ll be doing will look pretty strange. And some of it may make it look like you’re sleeping. So be careful!
Alright, let’s begin with an easy eye exercise designed to help improve your peripheral vision. Basically all you’ll do here is stretch your eyes as far left and as far right as you can. This exercise works your eye socket muscles, also known as the extra-ocular muscles, and helps increase their flexibility.
To start, sit or stand and focus your vision straight ahead. Next stretch each hand out to the side like you used to do when pretending you were an airplane. Stick each thumb up towards the sky and hold that pose.
Now, keeping your head straight, move your eyes to the right until you can see your thumb. If you can’t quite see it, just stretch your eyes as far to the right side as you can. Then glance to the left while making sure you keep your head still and facing straight ahead. Continue glancing right to left and left to right nine more times. Repeat the sequence of 10 glances to each side for a total of three sets.
That’s it, you’re done! See, I told you it’d be easy!
The next exercise is even easier. It involves rolling your eyes, something most of you probably already know how to do pretty well. Only this time when you roll your eyes, it won’t be because you’re being sarcastic or reacting to something that someone else said. You’ll be doing these eye rolls on purpose to help strengthen the muscles in your eye socket. These are the muscles that help your eyes move vertically, horizontally, and all around. Purposely rolling these muscles increases their flexibility, too.
Here’s all you do.
Focus your eyes straight ahead at the 12 o’clock position. Now move your eyes to the right in a circular direction until your eyes make a complete circle and are back at the 12 o’clock position. Now blink. Beginning again at the 12 o’clock position, rotate your eyes counterclockwise until you make a complete circle and arrive back at the 12 o’clock position and then blink again.
Continue rolling your eyes for 5 sets of clockwise and counter-clockwise rolls. While rolling your eyes, be sure to really exaggerate the movement to help stretch those muscles as far as comfortably possible. That’s it.
I’ll bet your eyes are already beginning to feel better.
Next, instead of rolling your eyes in an anticipated circular motion, this exercise will have you moving your eyes in all sorts of random directions. All you’ll be doing is using your eyes to “write” letters on the wall.
Starting with your eyes focused straight ahead print your name on the wall in front of you using appropriate eye movements to make each letter. For example, if your name begins with the letter “L”, position your eyes at the top of the letter and sweep your eyes downwards, then over to the right, and you’re done.
Continue moving your eyes until you’ve printed all of the letters in your name on the wall in front of you. When finished, write your name again, only this time instead of printing the letters, try writing them in cursive.
You can keep going as long as you want with this exercise, and you can “write” any words that you want. Like eye rolling, eye writing exercises help make the eye muscles more flexible and help increase your eyes’ range of motion.
Next I’ll show you a simple way to strengthen your ciliary muscles. The ciliary muscles help your eyes focus on objects near and in the distance. They accomplish this task by flattening the lenses in the eyes to focus on distant objects and rounding the lenses when you need to focus on near objects. The ciliary muscles give your eyes their amazing ability to rapidly change focus on a wide variety of distances.
This is a great exercise for everyone, and especially those of you over age 40 since that’s the age when the ciliary muscles begin losing their strength.
In this exercise you’ll begin by focusing for a few seconds on an object that’s only about 5 or 6 inches in front of your eyes. Then you’ll change your focus to something in the distance that’s about 10 feet away. As you change your focus between up-close and distant, be sure to do so slowly and only change from near to far after each close and distant object comes into focus.
You can focus on anything you like in the distance as long as it’s about 8 to 10 feet away. For the up close portion of the exercise try holding your finger or a pen 5 or 6 inches in front of your eyes. Continue slowly changing your focus from an up close object to a distant object ten times and you’re through.
The final eye exercise I want to teach you actually helps your eyes relax, although it may not seem like it at first. All you do with this exercise is open your eyes up as wide as you can while inhaling your breath slowly and deeply. Then you squeeze your eyes shut really, really tight while slowly exhaling, and you hold that squeeze and your breath for about 30 seconds. Open and squeeze your eyes 5 times, take a brief break, and repeat the sequence 5 more times.
Besides relaxing your eyes, opening and squeezing helps increase muscle flexibility. The deep inhales and exhales help bring more oxygen and blood towards your face and eye area, too.
I already told you about the 20-20-20 exercise so I won’t repeat it here. Just remember to do it whenever your eyes feel strained. It’s another great way to flex your ciliary muscles.
The last few eye exercises are good to do when your eyes need to relax. Like the others, they’re quick and effective.
The first is simply an eye massage and it’s something you probably already know how to do. Just be careful if you wear contact lenses, or you might find the massage accidentally pops the contacts out of your eyes.
With eyes lightly closed, use the tips of your fingers to create tiny circles on your eyelids while applying light but firm pressure. You can also rapidly tap your eyelids with your fingertips, or try a combination of both.
No matter which way you choose to massage your eyes, be sure to move your fingers all around the eyes. Let your fingers guide the way across your eye balls, working their way as high and as low on the eye surface as they can comfortably go. Let your fingers massage the area under your eyes too. And while you’re at it, consider giving your forehead and both temples a little rub to relieve any built-up tension.
Another simple way to give your eyes a rest is to close them and cover them with your palms for up to 5 minutes. First, remove your glasses if you wear them. Next quickly rub both palms together to create some heat. Then, using a table or your desk to support both elbows, form the palms of your hands into a cupped shape by imagining that you’re holding some water in the palms of both hands. With cupped hands positioned towards your face, close both eyes.
Now move your head down until each of your eyes is covered by each cupped hand. Your hands will now be supporting both your neck and head. Close your fingers up and move your and hands around until you form a tight fit around each eye that blocks out as much light as possible.
Your hands should be touching all around your eyes, but should not be directly touching them, kind of like a suction cup. Think about your neck and shoulders and take a moment to relax them. This is the position you want to hold.
Now, for the next few minutes, I give you permission to take deep breaths and daydream about whatever makes you happy. For best results, include the most pleasant details you can image. This last exercise is an excellent way to give your eyes the brief periods of rest they need to continue on with whatever task they, and you, need them to complete.
And there you have it – a series of exercises designed especially for your eyes. If you know of any others, feel free to practice them as well. Like the rest of your body, the more exercise you give your eyes, the better they’ll perform. And better performance definitely goes a long way towards increasing your reading speed.
Finally, let’s not forget about the most beneficial way to rest your eyes and that is with sleep. No matter how busy you are, there comes a time when each day must end, so let it. Sleep is refreshing, enjoyable and necessary to maintain good health.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the Ergonomics portion of the speed reading posts. I’ve covered a lot of really important information in this section and I hope you’ve found it useful. Some of it may not be useful, so pick and choose as appropriate to your situation.
The main point I’ve tried to make in this post is this: Eye fatigue is real, and when left untreated, will slow your speed reading progress. So always take time to exercise and rest your eyes. And if you need to, make an appointment to visit an eye doctor!
Equally important to reducing eye fatigue is making sure your reading environment is as ergonomically-correct and glare-free as possible. Taking time to properly prepare your reading environment will go a long way towards increasing both your reading speed and you ability to comprehend more. Just try it and you’ll see.
As I have said throughout these posts, faster reading with better concentration is the gateway to gaining more knowledge. And in today’s increasingly competitive world, more knowledge means more power.
I wish you the best of luck and all the knowledge you can amass!