Exercises for Dizziness and Vertigo
By Mary Ann Wilson, RN
Vertigo is a sensation that you or your surroundings are moving when there is no actual movement. You may feel as though you are spinning, whirling, falling, or tilting. Severe vertigo may cause you to feel nauseated and vomit. Vertigo and other types of dizziness can greatly increase the risk of losing your balance and falling. Vertigo occurs when there is conflict between the signals sent to the brain by various balance- and position-sensing systems of the body.
Common causes of vertigo include:
• Inner ear disorders, such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Ménière’s disease, vestibular neuritis, or labyrinthitis.
• Injury to the ear or head.
• Migraine headaches, which are painful, debilitating headaches that often occur with vertigo, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, noise, and smell.
• Decreased blood flow through the arteries that supply blood to the base of the brain (vertebrobasilar insufficiency).
Alcohol and many prescription and nonprescription medicines can cause light-headedness or vertigo. These problems may develop from:
• Taking too much of a medicine (over-medicating) or drug interactions that often occur when taking multiple medications.
• Alcohol and medicine interactions. This is a problem, especially for older adults who may take many medicines at the same time.
• Misusing or abusing a medicine or alcohol.
• Drug intoxication or the effects of withdrawal.
***If you are experiencing dizziness or vertigo it is crucial to consult with a physician and request a referral to a physical therapist who specializes in vestibular treatment. Dizziness and vertigo should be taken very seriously as they exponentially increase fall risk. Decreasing activity is not a suitable long term solution to managing this condition. In most cases, the root problem can be identified and the condition can be improved, if not alleviated entirely.
Chair Exercise Generally speaking, Sit and Be Fit workouts provide appropriate exercises for those managing dizziness and vertigo since the majority of each workout is done seated in a chair, at a slow pace. This slow gentle approach to exercise with proper alignment is especially important if you are prone to dizziness or vertigo, specifically with regards to neck and head movements. However, before beginning Sit and Be Fit (or any exercise program), consult with your doctor.
Singhealth.com suggests the following exercises to treat vertigo and improve balance, but as mentioned above, be sure to consult with your physician before practicing these exercises.
Seated Eye Exercises:
• Look up, then down. First, slowly, and then, quickly.
• Look from side to side. First, slowly, and then, quickly.
• Focus on your finger at arm’s length. Move your finger from side to side, keeping your eyes focused on the finger.
Seated Head Exercises:
• Bend your head forward, and then backward with eyes open. First, slowly, and then, quickly.
• Turn your head from side to side. First, slowly, and then, quickly.
• As your dizziness improves, these head exercises can be done with your eyes closed.
Seated Upper Body Exercises:
• Shrug your shoulders.
• Turn your shoulders from side to side.
• Bend forward and pick up objects from the ground. Then, sit up.
Standing Balance Exercises:
• Begin from a seated position. Stand up and sit down again. Do this with eyes open.
• Repeat with your eyes closed. (only if this can be done safely, without feeling dizzy)
• In standing, pass a small rubber ball from one hand to the other under one knee.
Walking Balance Exercises:
• Walk across the room with your eyes open. Repeat this with your eyes closed. (only if this can be done safely)
• Walk up and down a slope with your eyes open. Repeat this with your eyes closed. (only if this can be done safely)
• Walk up and down stairs with your eyes open. Repeat this with your eyes closed. (only if this can be done safely)