Until just recently, I was having issues with periodic dizziness and ringing in my left ear. It is the worst feeling, so I didn't wait long before making an appointment with my doctor, who referred me to an ear specialist (an "otolaryngologist").
I saw the ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor) and was pleasantly surprised to learn that my hearing is pretty near perfect.
So, what was causing the spins?
After a thorough assessment, the doctor determined the problem wasn't lingering symptoms of a virus or a sign of "getting older;" it wasn't fluid behind my ear drum or anything else Dr. Google suggested. In fact, the problem was in my neck!
Seriously! My NECK muscles were too tight! The room was spinning because my neck needed more yoga.
This diagnosis wouldn't surprise the ancient yogis; they've always said that everything is interrelated.
I was fascinated. I had to know the cause-and-effect relation.
Here it is: Tight neck muscles, including the upper traps and shoulders, can create strain on the jaw and pull it out of alignment. The jaw contains a complex network of muscles and nerves. When it isn't aligned, a ligament in that area that connects directly to a "hearing bone" of the inner ear is impacted.
Within our inner ear are tiny organs that comprise the vestibular system. The vestibular system is responsible for our ability to balance by informing the brain about the location of the body in space (that is, where the body is 'in the world,' in relation to gravity, and to our body itself). The temporal bone of the vestibular system (inner ear) shares its location with the jaw. Therefore, tight neck muscles tug on the jaw, which impacts the inner ear, resulting in vertigo. The phenomenon can also occur with poor posture or degenerated or herniated discs and is sometimes referred to as "cervicogenic dizziness."
Now the best part: The Solution.
I'll give you three guesses what that might be . . .
Follow these 5 steps to stay vertically vertigo-free:
1. Place a heating pad, hot water bottle, or warm cloth on your neck to make the muscles more pliable.
2. Try the stretches in THIS VIDEO, emphasizing those that target where you're the tightest (hold them for at least 30 seconds per side and repeat 2-3 times) .
3. Follow up with larger movements, such as slow arm circles, exaggerated shoulder rolls, or standing side bends.
4. Practise daily, if not several times a day.
5. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
BONUS: I found this cool massage tool specifically for your neck. There's tons to choose from, but aside from not liking the one with spikes, I'd say they're all basically the same.
Remember that in yoga, less is more. If you're ever unsure about a stretch, pose, or movement, err on the side of caution by contacting your primary care practitioner first.
Please note: There are many reasons you can experience dizziness. Not all of them are related to the neck. Always check first with your GP and follow their advice.
Register for the next FREE Community Class here. Consider it an investment in your clear-headed future self.