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Exercises and maneuvers for vertigo and dizziness

Learn how to reduce your vertigo and dizziness symptoms with these four exercises.
Last update on Jun, 28, 2024

Have you ever had the unsettling sensation that the world is spinning around you? Feeling dizzy or experiencing vertigo can be disorienting or even frightening. It's important to know that you're not alone and there are ways to manage these symptoms. This post will guide you through the basics of vertigo—what it is, common causes and symptoms—as well as some exercises and maneuvers you can practice to help relieve your vertigo and dizziness

What is vertigo?

Vertigo is a clinical term that describes the perception of your body or surroundings moving. Vertigo is more than just a bad case of dizziness—it is a sensation of spinning or rotational movement that can be very disorienting and make standing or walking difficult. 

There are several common symptoms that people with vertigo experience. When talking to your doctor, take note of your vertigo symptoms, how long they last and any consistent triggers (like sitting up too fast or rolling over in bed) to help identify the underlying cause of your vertigo.

Common vertigo symptoms include:

  • A sense of the room or the inside of your head spinning
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in one or both ears)
  • Abnormal eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Balance issues or feeling unsteady

Vertigo is a symptom rather than a disease itself. There are two main types of vertigo: peripheral and central. Peripheral vertigo, the more common type, is typically caused by issues with the inner ear. Central vertigo, on the other hand, occurs when you have a condition affecting your brain, and can be caused by traumatic brain injury or strokes.

Other common vertigo causes include ear infections or viruses and certain medications that affect the vestibular system, which is associated with both your ability to balance as well as your hearing. Understanding the root cause of vertigo is crucial for effective treatment and management.

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Exercises for vertigo and dizziness

If you know which of the two common vertigo causes you are experiencing, you can then find the right treatment plan. The following exercises for peripheral vertigo and dizziness can help when crystals in your inner ear become dislodged and send false signals of movement to your brain.

It is extremely important , before trying these exercises, to consult with your doctor. They can diagnose the type of vertigo you are experiencing and recommend vertigo exercises to address your specific needs and symptoms.

The Epley maneuver or Canalith repositioning is one of the most common exercise treatments for vertigo as it helps reposition dislodged crystals (otoliths) in your inner ear that can cause vertigo.

How to perform the Epley maneuver:

  1. Sit upright on a bed with your legs extended.
  2. Turn your head 45 degrees to the right.
  3. Lie back quickly, keeping your head turned, and hold for 30 seconds.
  4. Turn your head 90 degrees to the left without lifting it.
  5. Turn your body another 90 degrees to the left, so you are lying on your left side.
  6. Sit up on your left side.
  7. Repeat on your other side.

The Half Somersault maneuver (also sometimes called the Foster maneuver) is similar to the Epley maneuver in that it helps reposition dislodged crystals in your inner ear. Some patients find the Half Somersault less disorienting than the Epley maneuver.

How to perform the Half Somersault maneuver:

  1. Start by kneeling on a mat with your hands on the ground in front of you.
  2. While kneeling, tilt your head up and back.
  3. Quickly put your head down so your head touches the floor, tucking your chin as far as possible towards your knees.
  4. Turn your head to face your left elbow and wait for any dizziness to stop. Hold for 30–60 seconds.
  5. Keeping your head turned, raise your head to back level, so it's in line with your back and shoulder. Hold for 30–60 seconds.
  6. Finally, keep your head turned and sit back upright.
  7. Repeat on your other side.

Brandt Daroff exercises help reduce vertigo symptoms through repetitive movements.

How to perform Brandt Daroff exercises:

  1. Start in a seated position on the edge of your bed.
  2. Lie down on your left side, turning your head to look up at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Hold this position for 30 seconds or until any dizziness stops.
  4. Sit up and wait for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat on your right side.
  6. Do 5 repetitions on each side, twice a day.

The Semont maneuver is another vertigo exercise that can help reposition the inner ear crystals.

How to perform the Semont maneuver:

  1. Sit on the edge of your bed.
  2. Turn your head 45 degrees to the right.
  3. Quickly lie down on your left side, holding the position for 30 seconds.
  4. Quickly move to lie on your right side without changing the angle of your head.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds and then return to sitting.

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How to be safe when exercising with vertigo

When performing exercises for vertigo and dizziness, it's important to use caution. Here are some quick tips to help you stay safe:

  • Start slowly and ensure you're in a safe environment.
  • If possible, practice exercising or walking near a wall with a handrail.
  • Have someone nearby to support you if needed.
  • Stop if you feel severe dizziness or discomfort, and consult your doctor.
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FAQs about exercises for vertigo and dizziness

Here are some commonly asked questions about exercising with vertigo.

Yes! Certain maneuvers and exercises help vertigo symptoms. If your vertigo is caused by dislodged crystals in your inner ear (which interfere with your brain’s ability to process movement), maneuvers such as the Half Somersault or Epley (covered in the section above) can help move the crystals back into place.

When deciding if you can still exercise with vertigo, it’s important to consider your safety first. Since vertigo affects your balance, ensuring you’re not putting yourself at risk of falling is a top priority. Avoid high-intensity activities like running, swimming or any exercise with rapid head movements.

However, light, controlled activities such as walking, gentle yoga or tai chi can be beneficial and might even help improve balance and reduce symptoms over time. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before starting or continuing any exercise regimen with vertigo.

How often you should do vertigo exercises depends on the severity of your symptoms and the specific exercises recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions from your doctor on the frequency of the exercises,

Vertigo treatments and other options

Besides exercises, there are other vertigo treatment options that your doctor might recommend depending on your unique situation.

Medications can help manage vertigo symptoms. Common vertigo medication options include antihistamines, anti-nausea medications and medications that reduce inner ear fluid.

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy, or vestibular therapy, involves a series of exercises designed to help your brain adapt to the signals from your inner ear. It's particularly useful for those with persistent vertigo.

Vertigo surgery is a last resort for severe cases. Procedures can include plugging the part of the ear causing vertigo or repairing the inner ear structure.

Managing vertigo can feel overwhelming, but with the right exercises and treatments, relief is possible. Start with a visit to your doctor or audiologist to find the best approach for you. Stay safe and take small steps towards regaining your balance and comfort.

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Experiencing symptoms of vertigo?

If you’re noticing symptoms of vertigo, visit your doctor.

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