Today we’re going to be talking about bouncing and the inner ear.
In last week’s blog we talked quite a bit about what are called the otolith organs of your inner ear.
Now, if you have any balance issues we always have to recognize that you’re inner ear has five different receptors. We have what are called canals, which are basically the sense head movement, and then the otolith, which are the ear stone organs, which are designed to help us understand how our big body is moving in space.
So, last time we talked about what’s called the utricle. Today we’re gonna talk a little bit about what’s called the saccule. This is a…you don’t have to know the name…it’s just a little part of the inner ear that basically helps you understand when your body is going up and down. In other words, we say it senses linear acceleration in a vertical direction.
So, why is this important? If you have saccule issues very often what we see, particularly in a fitness setting, is that people will often struggle with squatting. Any kind of exercise like lunging, squatting, where they get really stiff, they feel off balance, they feel like their ankles get too tight, their hips get too tight. We often find by working on this portion of the inner ear those things improve.
So I’m gonna give you a couple of very simple things you can do at home to work on this.
For this, you’re going to need some kind of letter or some kind of visual target because generally what we want to do with any of these inner ear exercises is we want to have a clear visual target that we can look at.
So, if I was doing this, I’m just going to imagine that the camera was where I put my letters I would want to have a visual target that is challenging enough. I could still see it clearly, but it’s just a little bit of a challenge and I will move back to whatever distance I need to be at.
So, my visual target may be here, it may be as far away as the camera. It could be on the other wall in your house. It just depends on how large it is because you need to see it clearly.
Now, once you can see it clearly your first exercise is really simple.
You look at the letter and then you begin a light bouncing, alright?
Now, normally what I have people do is they’re going to bounce for somewhere between 15 and 20 seconds and your primary job in this bouncing process is to keep the target clear.
Now, the target will usually move, right? Because my head’s in motion. So, the letter will look like it’s going up and down a little bit, but the question you have to ask yourself is am I losing acuity?
In other words, are the edges of the letter becoming more clear or do they become so blurry that I can’t see it?
If it becomes so blurry that you can’t see it, you actually probably have a problem with this particular system.
So if that’s the case, we need to then make this a little bit easier for you. You can either grab something and hold onto it.
You can bounce a little bit more slowly or you can move into the second version of the exercise, which works like this. You get into a little bit of an athletic stance. You hold onto things so that you feel really stable. You look at your target and then you just do a quick little drop. It doesn’t have to be very far, alright? Just like that.
So I drop down quickly and then I slowly come back up. Again, I’m looking at my target trying to see does it remain clear? If my fast down and slow up does not work, my other option is to slowly go down and then pop up quickly. Again, the goal being to keep that target clear.
So, to stimulate this portion of the inner ear, remember we’re talking about bouncing, right? Some kind of vertical acceleration.
The three different modes that we typically work on in the beginning is you pick a visual target. You start off with just a basic bounce. You see if you can keep it clear. If you cannot keep it clear, you then have two regressions, wide athletic stance, fast down, slow up or slow down, fast up.
Now, what I would recommend to make this make sense to you is if you fall into that category of “wow, every time I run or I take a long walk I feel worse.” Sometimes if people run, because their head and body are going up and down constantly and they feel worse after that run or they get knee pain or whatever this might be a good drill to test.
If you have trouble with squatting, lunging, any kind of lowering motion in the body. You feel like your ankles, hips, etc. are very tight in any of those kind of classic fitness exercises it would also be worth testing.
Finally, if you have a history of inner ear problems, balance issues, motion sickness, you’ve been knocked out multiple times these would all be reasons that we would want to test this portion of your vestibular system.
So, take it easy. Make sure that you don’t get dizzy, don’t get nauseous.
Keep your volume really low and remember that using the visual target is gonna be your guide.
You make it as safe and as easy as possible so that you can keep that visual target clear as you’re going through the drills.
Give this a try.
If you have any questions let us know, otherwise good luck.