Tips to make vestibular exercise more effective

Ashley Contreras | 07 May, 2022

            Tips to make vestibular exercise more effective



In all things, consistency is a key factor to success. Any goal worth achieving does not come overnight and new habits take repetition to implement. I can recall being in physical therapy school and not wanting to attend the early morning classes. I commuted to college so before leaving the house my mother would tell me “You could work at the bank for the rest of your life”. The bank was my part time job and not the job that I was passionate about doing the rest of my life. That was enough to get me going and day after day I would attend the physical therapy program to ultimately become a physical therapist. The big goals we set for ourselves take time, but working at them on a daily basis moves us in the right direction closer to our goal. For you this goal might be walking through a grocery store, riding a bike along a beautiful bike path, or playing with grandchildren on the floor. All of these are achievable when you are consistent with your daily small changes towards a bigger success.


Adapting to your symptom load-

This one is super important to figure out and your journal can be very helpful to see patterns. We all fluctuate on a daily basis. Whether it be the climate changes, lack of hydration, hormone cycle changes, or a lack of sleep we can expect that we will have good days and bad days. Our daily exercise needs to be adjusted to the threshold that we have on a given day. When you are not feeling so well on a given day you could break your exercises into smaller chunks where you are only doing 10 seconds of vestibular exercise instead of 30 seconds for each exercise. You could also do them seated instead of standing if you balance is not on point. Adapting to your symptom load will help keep you consistent while not giving up and missing days of exercise.



As the exercises get easier it is important to change up the routine. Just like strength exercises if you keep doing the same one it will help temporarily but once the change is made there won’t be further strength gains. Making the exercises more difficult is called progression. Physical therapists always go into sessions with a progression and regression in mind ready for adapt to how each person is functioning. Once you have a base of exercises you can switch them up so that you are not doing the same routine daily and getting stuck in a plateau.


Change the environment-

Once you are comfortable doing these exercises at home feel free to switch up the environment that you are doing them. Research shows that doing them in different positions, distances, and environments promotes better effects. Bring one of your cards to work and do it at your desk or place one on the work fridge and do it while walking up to get your lunch. Be creative with varying these exercises so that it mimics a real situation in which you would be moving your head and getting vestibular input.


Lifestyle changes-

In addition to doing your vestibular exercises you want to consider making lifestyle changes. Overall brain health will affect the ability of your brain to interpret the vestibular information. Because the brain interprets everything it is considered the computer processor of all the senses. If you are constantly living in a state of brain strain you will feel fatigue, brain fog, and low motivation. Brain health is directly determined by the food you eat, the way your gut communicates to your brain, the amount of sleep you get, and the stress level you have.


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