Vertigo is one of the most common symptoms leading people to seek medical attention, and the problem is not as cut-and-dry as you might think. Some people who experience dizziness and are unbalanced when walking could, in fact, be suffering from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) or they could have Meniere’s disease. As it turns out, vertigo exercises can help people overcome BPPV and Meniere’s. The Epley maneuver, the Semont maneuver, and the Brandt Daroff exercise are effective approaches.
Statistics indicate that about 90 million Americans have gone to their healthcare provider because of vertigo, dizziness, or balance problems. Simply put, vertigo is a spinning sensation that puts people at risk of falling and can interfere with many aspects of life. Over time, medical experts have discovered that vertigo exercises can help the body become accustomed to the confusing signals that cause vertigo. Here we take a detailed look at some of the exercises that people suffering from vertigo, including benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and Meniere’s disease, have been able to benefit from.
Exercises for balance
The majority of exercises related to vertigo and overcoming BBPV are designed to improve balance. These exercises are different levels and begin with what is called the Romberg exercise, the Standing Sway exercise, and the Marching exercise. Over time, a person is usually able to build up their confidence to the point where they are ready to move on and try level 2 exercises. This could include turning and doing head movements while standing up. Believe it or not, vertigo symptoms can improve with these simple exercises within a few days or weeks for many people.
If you suffer from vertigo, you are encouraged to start out each exercise slowly. You can gradually exercise for a longer period of time or do more repetitions if you feel comfortable. When starting an exercise routine with vertigo, BPPV, or Meniere’s, it is important to have someone with you just in case you do feel as if you are going to fall. As you progress with your exercises, you will likely be able to work on your own.
Keeping a booklet with the date and time you spent exercising and how you felt during the exercise routine can be helpful.
Level 1: Easy vertigo balance exercises
With this first exercise, most people are instructed to try it twice a day. When they feel confident, they can attempt the Romberg exercise with their eyes closed.
The Romberg exercise involves three easy steps:
- Stand with a chair in front of you and a wall behind you. The idea is to use them for support if you feel as if you are going to fall.
- Put your feet together and your arms by your side.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Another level 1 exercise is the Standing Sway exercise. It includes 5 simple steps:
- Stand with a chair in front of you and a wall behind.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place arms by your side.
- Gently sway forward and then backward, shifting your weight to the toes and then the heels. Try not to lift your toes or heel. Try not to bend your hips.
- Slowly increase how far you sway forward and back.
- Do the sway 20 times.
The third and final exercise at level 1 is also called the Standing Sway exercise, but this one is right to left. Here are the 5 simple steps:
- Stand with a chair in front of you and a wall behind you.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your side.
- Gently sway to the right and left so your weight shifts from your right foot to your left foot. Don’t lift toes or heels.
- Slowly increase how far you sway.
- Do this right-to-left sway about 20 times.
Level 2 vertigo balance exercise
At level 2, exercises may help improve balance and reduce other symptoms associated with vertigo.
The first exercise is called Turning in Place. Here are the easy to follow instructions:
- Stand with a chair in front of you and a wall behind you. If you start to fall, use them for support.
- Place your feet slightly apart and your arms at your side.
- Turn on half circle – about 180 degrees.
- Stop for 10 seconds or until your dizziness goes away.
- Do this about 5 times. The first time, turn to the right, the second time, turn to the left.
Head movements while standing is the other level 2 exercise that people with vertigo seem to find helpful.
- Stand with a chair in front of you and a wall behind you.
- Position yourself with your feet apart and arms by your side.
- Move your head up and down 10 times.
- Move your head side to side 10 times.
Walking exercises for vertigo
Walking might sound simple, but it can be very effective for those suffering from dizziness. Here are three different walking exercises that those with vertigo, Meniere’s, or BPPV can try. Again, keep in mind that if you have vertigo and are concerned about the possibility of falling, have someone join you, at least for the first few times.
Walking exercise 1 is a quick routine that can be done indoor or outdoor:
- Walk 5 steps and stop abruptly.
- Wait 10 seconds or until any dizziness subsides and then repeat until you have walked approximately 50 feet.
Walking exercise 2 combines walking and turning.
- Walk 5 steps, then turn around and walk back.
- Wait 10 seconds or until any dizziness goes way. Repeat 5 times.
Walking exercise 3 brings the head into play, and should be attempted once exercise 2 is mastered.
- Walk and turn your head to the left and then to the right, every other step. Try to walk about 50 feet.
- Walk while moving your head up and down. Walk about 50 feet,
- Walk tipping your head side to side (as if you are leaning toward your shoulder). Walk for 50 feet.
In the beginning, you will likely weave, but as you continue with level 3, the weaving will become less pronounced – a sign that you are making good progress.
Brandt-Daroff exercise for vertigo
Sometimes, physicians will suggest the Brandt-Daroff exercise. It is usually recommended for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which causes brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness. This form of vertigo is normally triggered by certain changes in the position of the head. For example, if a person tips their head downward. While Brandt-Daroff exercises can’t cure the vertigo, over time they can significantly reduce symptoms.
Brandt-Daroff exercise starts with a person sitting in an upright position, then moving into a lying position on one side, with the nose pointed up at a 45-degree angle. This position is maintained for about 30 seconds or until the vertigo goes away. Once the vertigo has subsided, the person moves back into the seated position and repeats the exercise on the other side. People who are instructed to use this exercise usually do repetitions at least twice a day. Some find that their symptoms suddenly go away, while others see improvement over a matter of weeks or months.
The Brandt-Daroff is not to be confused with the Epley maneuver or the Semont maneuver. The Epley is a series of head maneuvers that involves turning the head toward the side that causes vertigo and quickly lying down on your back with the head in the same position just off the edge of the table. The Semont maneuver, which is also known as the “liberatory”, has the vertigo patient rapidly moving from lying on one side to lying on the other.
There are people who experience nausea and vomiting when they attempt these exercises, especially when the vertigo is severe. On the other hand, there are some people who suffer from vertigo and it goes away without any treatment at all. The good part to exercising is that it can help the body get used to the confusing vertigo signals and, in many cases, may help people get over vertigo sooner.
If you suffer from vertigo and would like to try exercises, first consult with your doctor and then consider going slow so you don’t injure yourself. Having someone watch over you while you exercise, at least for the first few sessions is also recommended if your vertigo is severe.