Winther Insigths

By physiotherapist Sigrid Mitchell

Both the peripheral vision, near/far and focal vision are stimulated when navigating through the surroundings, avoiding obstacles and other bikers using saccades, smooth pursuit, converging and diverging


Vision is an incredibly complex system that creates large amount of activation over many areas of the brain. 70-90% of the sensory input comes from the vision and is governed by both reflexive and cognitively driven mechanism.
The vision controls up to 70% of postural activities and is directly connected to the vestibular system by the VOR (vestibule ocular relfex) to have smooth visual information available while moving through the world. 
The eyes are each controlled by 6 muscles. Vision is therefore a skill and requires practice to be used efficiently.



How biking affects your vision

When children are riding a bike, trike or scooter and navigating through the surroundings the eyes are constantly switching between all of the above skills;
the gaze stabilization when focus on on one target to navigate around, smooth pursuit when following a moving target to navigate around, saccades when
switching between focus points to keep an eye on surroundings and potential obstacles, near/far when switching between objects far, to plan ahead the route and near, navigating where you are right now, and the peripheral vision will constantly be in use and adjusting in combination with each of the other four skills in order to react quickly to any changes in the surroundings.
As these skills are practiced and deepened, the ability to switch between skills becomes smoother and happens quicker which in turn means the rider can move with more coordination and speed, which in turn challenges and deepens the practice and transitions between the skills. In other words, the more you practice the better your vision becomes, the better you can cycle.

Vision can be divided into five skills

Gaze stabilization: the ability to stay in focus on a target over time in all directions.

Smooth pursuit: the ability to move the eyes in all directions to follow an object.

Saccades: the ability to switch betweeen targets in all directions while staying in focus.

Near/far: the ability to switch between converging and diverging while staying in focus.

Peripheral vision: the ability to stay aware of the surroundings while having one focus point.

Learning by Moving

All in all the biggest benefit is learning new skills by joyful play with multiply repetitions, failing and trying again which create this unique myelination process in the brain, where the nerves gets extra insulation of its axon enabling them to transport the signals/information faster, enabling you to get really good at what you are doing. Therefore, it is important to challenge children physically in many different ways, so they keep exploring the opportunities of the brain and body.