Please keep this quote in mind before reading this blog :
“There is no difference between you or an athlete. Both populations must maintain a specific level of aerobic/strength capacity to manage daily/life loads, adapt to different tasks or environmental constraints and most importantly recover”.
Yes, that’s right. If you consider yourself to be far from the athlete spectrum, this blog STILL applies to you.
Are there benefits to training without vision?
This is certainly not a black and white answer and whilst it is common logic to assume that complete visual occlusion has many benefits, from recovery of an injury to an improvement in performance, it certainly has its drawbacks! Fortunately and unfortunately, the information age today is able to deliver many solutions to a common problem. However, due to perceived time constraints, we lack the ability to filter, fine tune and self-select a solution that is specific to the task at play, our individual and environmental needs. Although vision is our dominant source of information required to navigate our world, we shift between vision, proprioception and the balance organs in our inner ears.
It has been shown that blindfolded baseball pitchers and golf putters transferred poorly from practice to competition. It was assumed that blocking vision during the throwing or putting motion could be a training method to improve proprioception by concentrating more on the movement of the joints and limb position in space. Overemphasis on internal attention to body movements (sensory consequences of the motion performed) may interfere with appropriate external attention to the situation and environment through visual interception. visual information may have interfered with efficient processing of proprioception due to the superiority of the visual system to other sensory systems.
There are 2 theories that explain why training without vision may have no positive transfer:
1) Identical elements theory of transfer – The level of training transfer depends on the level of similarity between training and performance environments.
2) Specificity of practice – indicates that transfer of skill from practice to another context (e.g. testing or competition) can be facilitated if the individual has practiced under conditions that replicate the target context as closely as possible.
Adding a significant source of information after a period of practice, where it was either present or absent, results in a deterioration of performance. Vision interferes with what has been learned. If one of the sources of information used to learn the movement is withdrawn, the representation that has been developed becomes inefficient. This would explain why withdrawing visual information caused a significant deterioration in performance. Complete visual occlusion during practice may interfere wit how both vision and proprioception are “paired” in the brain.
Within my practice, I prefer to utilize partial occlusion during practice or even during movement specific drills. This does not mean I completely ignore practicing without vision. Of course, the choice to use full or no vision depends on your skill level, prior experience, specific sport demands, complexity or organisation, and environmental setting. As you can see in the video, the partial block out glasses are a fancy piece of technology that I tend to use on my clients and the athletic population.
So why practice with Senaptec?
This is because it allows the integration of both vision and proprioception that is more context driven and allows greater specificity and shared common elements between practice and competition.
The Senaptec glasses can be used to block one specific aspect of an persons/athletes view during the execution of a movement or sports skill.
The dual purposes of the oscillating visual fields are to enhance two parameters:
1) To block a view for a certain time period
2) To block a certain location in the scene
It is important to remember, it is not just the visual hardware (visual acuity, wider peripheral vision, depth perception) that enables better planning action for movement but also visual software (being attuned to different sources of specifying visual information and perceptual-motor calibration).
Perceptual expertise not only involves educating your attention to the right sources of information (wallet on the floor) but also doing it at the right time in relation to the control of the unfolding action (coordinating the visual stream with the movement at the right time to minimize over-lengthening a muscle for instance). Most rehab or injury recovery training programs lack the education of attention, which is the narrowing down from the vast manifold of information, to the minimal optimal information that specifies the affordance of an event, object or layout.
A key approach to rehabilitating a post-concussive athlete requires perceptual-motor calibration. Perceptual-motor calibration is the process by which an individual scales perception of their action boundaries to their capabilities. An individual’s action capability is considered to be a combination of the individual’s body proportions (i.e. standing reach height) with their biodynamics (i.e. muscular power, flexibility, etc.) for a given task. The endpoint of an individual’s action capabilities is the action boundary, the limit of an individual’s ability to perform a given action. What requires more focus is recalibrating the link(s) between visual perception of affordances and movement-pattern selection, or perception-action coupling. This can be achieved by using the Senaptec Strobe at The Chiro Hub.
The Senaptec Strobe is designed to train the connections between your eyes, brain, and body. Using liquid crystal technology, the lenses flicker between clear and opaque, removing visual information and forcing you to process more efficiently. The Senaptec Strobe can be integrated into existing training drills and exercises.
So, if you have been instructed to close your eyes during your rehab sessions, such as a single leg stance drill for a stubborn ankle injury, then please do yourself a favour and give the clinic a call! We pride ourselves, not in offering a generic solution, but to offer a more complete, individualized approach to meet positive outcomes.
Appointments available HERE.
Watch the videos below to learn more about why SENAPTEC STROBE is used at The Chiro Hub:
- Eagle, S., Nindl, B.C., Johnson, C. D., Kontos, A. P. and Connaboy, C. (2019), Does Concussion Affect Perception-Action Coupling Behavior? Action Boundary Perception as a Biomarker for Concussion, Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, 00:1-8
- Fisher, K. M. and Fairbrother, J. T., (2019), Seeing is Believing: Blind Putting Drills Confer No Advantage to the Novice Golfer, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
- Proteau, L., Marteniuk, R. G. and Levesque, L. (1992) A Sensorimotor Basis for Motor Learning: Evidence Indicating Specificity of Practice, The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A: Human Experimental Psychology, 44:3, 557-575
- Moradi, J., Movahedi, A. and Salehi, H. (2013) Specificity of Learning a Sport Skill to the Visual Condition of Acquisition, Journal of Motor Behaviour, Oct
- Choi, W. and Shin, Y (2019) Improved Muscle Activity Following Motor Training Without Vision of the Throwing Motion in Baseball Pitchers, American Journal of Biomedical Science & Research, 3(5)