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Balance Training and Fall & Injury Prevention – Episode 298

Video Highlights

- How your cerebellum matters.
- How to test yourself.
- ‘Do anywhere’ drill explained.

This has profound implications in terms of your balance, preventing falls, and then also in an athletic population, preventing injury.

Hi Folks. Dr. Cobb back with you. We are going to be doing some revisiting of our childhood today to work on some office based exercises again. I’ve done a couple of things in the office. We’ve talked a little bit about isometric training. We’ve talked about doing some cerebellar training. Cerebellum, once again is the little brain that sits at the base of the big brain. It’s controlling a lot of different things in the body.

One of the things that we talk a lot about in our courses is how our brain works. That it primarily needs fuel, meaning good breathing, good eating, and activation, meaning it needs stimulus. One of the things that I notice as people age that they do less and less of is spin or rotate. You go to a play ground, you watch kids. They get on the merry-go-round, the little spinny things and they love it. They’re screaming like crazy. You put an adult on it, “Nah. I don’t want to do that.” No, you give it a pass.That’s unfortunate because one of the things that spinning does is it really ramps up the activity of our inner ear. Now our inner ear feeds directly into our cerebellum, that little brain. Our little brain controls movement is completely dependent upon getting good information from our inner ear. One of the things that we’ve found over the years is that working with adults, very often, they get amazing results from, like I said, being kids again and playing with spinning and rotating.

Most of the athletes that I work with, I start them with the exercise that I’m about to show you. We test it. We make sure that they’re okay with it. From there we progress to doing spinning, rotational exercises in standing and then teaching them how to fall and roll on the ground and things like that. But it all starts right here.

All that you really need for this is what you’ll find in most offices, which is a chair that actually spins. If you know that you have dizziness issues or vertigo issues, you’re going to want to give this one a pass or you’re going to want to do this one really, really slowly because I don’t want to make you sick. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.

Assuming that you are fairly normal, functional and you don’t have any vertigo history or anything like that, the way that we’re going to do the exercise is very simple. Just like in most things in Z-Health we’re going to do an assessment. What I would like for you to do is sit up in the chair and I want you to check some shoulder ranges of motion.

For me, I’m going to test my internal, external rotation on both sides. Those are feeling pretty good. I’m going to test this motion here. This is called abduction. That also feels pretty good. I’ve been doing some drills, so I need to find something. Let’s try some head rotations. Head rotation feels pretty good. A little tight going to the right. Head tilt. There we go. Okay, when I tilt my head to my left, I’m getting a good little pull here in the right side, probably tighter than it needs to be. That’s going to be my reassessment. That’s what I would like to have get better.

If you’ve tested your shoulders and head and neck, you can also test how’s your thoracic spine feel. Can you bend side to side? Because the inner ear is very much tied into neck and spine issues as well, which is another reason that I think this is so important for most adults.

Here’s how this works. If I spin my chair to my right, it activates my right inner ear and my right cerebellum. All right. What I’m going to do, very carefully in the beginning and very slowly, I’m going to keep my eyes open and I’m going to rotate my chair. You can see I’m just walking myself around with my feet. You can go slower than that if you need to. A lot of people will get dizzy even at that speed. That should make you take pause and go, “Should I have gotten dizzy from that?”

I did one rep. I’m going to retest. For me that feels better. My shoulder ranges of motion are also improved, so probably a good drill for me. Could I go slower? Yes. In fact in people that have issues in the inner ear and cerebellum, sometimes this is their exercise, literally. Watch this. Done. All right. Sometimes they can go a quarter turn, maybe a half turn and they have to stop. That’s perfectly okay because as you practice this, you’ll get better at it.

I went to the right. I’m going to try going to the left. Once again, eyes are open and I’m just walking myself around here. Seeing how I feel. Retesting. Okay, that also did pretty good. I feel pretty good from that. All in all, good improvement for me. Hopefully, you get to feel the same thing. That’s just one rep. I actually felt better going to the right than to the left. So now I’m going to try and go to the right. This time I’m going to go a little faster and stop. Ooh. That was exciting. Go back and retest.

Ultimately, what I would like to be able to do is turn to the right, turn to the left, maybe three to five times at a fairly rapid pace with my eyes open, without getting dizzy. That’s kind of the whole goal here because that helps us to understand that the brain is starting to get good information and it’s reintegrating that information that maybe has been missing. That’s step one.

Step two is repeating this same process with your eyes closed. Gets very exciting at that point, very exciting. Okay. Eyes closed comes next. Where I work my way around. Where’s the camera? Got to find that first. So it’ll be a little disorienting. You come back and retest. Because I do a lot of these drills, that actually is even better. I needed that additional stimulus with my eyes closed. That’s step two.

Step three works like this. You do the same thing. Let’s say you’ve figured out that your body responds better to you turning to the right. You would then hold your right thumb up. You would look at your thumb as you turned. Again, exciting stuff.

It seems silly and I know this may be a little bit odd to you, but in vestibular rehabilitation, working the inner ear, working on the cerebellum, these are actually very well known exercises. The way that I look at it is pretty simple. As children, we do it a lot because that’s when we’re really trying to develop our inner ear and develop our brain through movement. As we age and as we get a little bit more self-conscious and we stop moving as much, these systems are some of the first ones to be overly challenged and to shut down movement. So the simple act of spinning in a chair can be enormously powerful for people.

What I would like for you to do is to try this very carefully and slowly. If you have problems with it, consult your healthcare practitioner. It’s really important that you understand if you can’t turn more than once or maybe even a half-turn without feeling really dizzy, that may give you an indication that there’s some rehabilitation that needs to get done. This has profound implications in terms of your balance, preventing falls, and then also in an athletic population, preventing injury.

Simple, simple exercise. Something you can do in the office. Really powerful both in terms of assessing where you’re at and also just in terms of improving performance that you can do very easily throughout the day.

If you have questions about this, let us know. Hopefully, you find this really interesting and useful. Most of all, once you’re healthy enough, you’ll find it fun to spin like a kid again.

Thanks.

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