Vertigo causes a sensation of spinning, and it can significantly affect a person’s ability to do day-to-day activities. Certain exercises may help to manage vertigo.

Vertigo may stem from an issue with the inner ear, brain, or sensory nerve pathway. It can cause a person to feel off-balance, even when they are not moving.

Certain exercises may help relieve the sensation, improve the person’s balance, and reduce their risk of falling.

Below, learn about the types of vertigo, the exercises that may help, and other approaches to treatment.

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Image credit: PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/Getty Images

Vertigo is a sensation of spinning or dizziness. A person may be still but feel as if their environment is spinning.

There are two main types of vertigo. Central vertigo results from an issue relating to the brain, and research suggests that vertigo is central in roughly 20% of cases.

Peripheral vertigo, the second type, results from a problem with the inner ear or vestibular nerve. Peripheral vertigo accounts for approximately 80% of vertigo cases.

A health issue called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common cause of peripheral vertigo. It can result from the displacement of calcium-carbonate crystals in the inner ear, which disrupts the person’s balance.

Exercises for vertigo may be particularly useful for people with BPPV, as activity can help redistribute the crystals. For people with other types of vertigo, the exercises may be less effective.

A few different exercises may help relieve vertigo. Typically, these exercises are considered either vestibular rehabilitation therapy or part of a canalith repositioning procedure.

Some examples include:

Brandt-Daroff exercises

These involve shifting from a lying to a sitting position. A person should use a soft surface, such as a bed or sofa.

A 2018 study suggests that these exercises are effective because they retrain the body to cope with dizziness in a safe setting.

To perform Brandt-Daroff exercises:

  1. Sit upright on the edge of the bed or sofa.
  2. Turn the head 45 degrees, or as far as is comfortable, to the left.
  3. Lower the right side of the body, keeping the head in the same position.
  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds, or until the dizziness stops.
  5. Slowly return to the starting position.
  6. Turn the head back to the center.
  7. Repeat the exercise on the other side.

Learn more about Brandt-Daroff exercises.

Epley maneuver

This is a series of movements that may help relieve vertigo by repositioning crystals in the inner ear. The aim is to alleviate nausea and dizziness.

Research suggests that this maneuver is a particularly safe and effective treatment for BPPV.

To perform the Epley maneuver if vertigo results from an issue with the right ear, for example:

  1. Sit on the edge of a bed.
  2. Turn the head 45 degrees, or as far as if comfortable, to the right.
  3. Quickly lie back.
  4. Maintain this position for 30 seconds.
  5. Turn the head so that it is now 45 degrees to the left.
  6. Maintain this position for 30 seconds.
  7. Turn the head and body another 90 degrees to the left, into the bed.
  8. Maintain this position for 30 seconds.
  9. Slowly sit up.

Begin on the other side if vertigo stems from an issue with the left ear.

Learn more about the Epley maneuver.

Sometimes vertigo resolves without treatment, but the best overall approach depends on the cause. If vertigo is due to a bacterial ear infection, for example, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

They may prescribe or recommend other drugs, such as antihistamines or antiemetics, which can help reduce motion sickness and nausea.

Some people also benefit from home remedies, such as ginger tea or Ginkgo biloba.

Learn more about home remedies for vertigo.

Anyone who experiences vertigo should consult a doctor. While it is usually not harmful, vertigo can keep a person from participating in daily activities, and it is important for a doctor to diagnose the cause.

Exercises can represent a simple and effective way to relieve the sensation, and home remedies and medications can also help.