Your Best Balance
Today, I want to talk briefly about four primary movements that you want to practice and work on in order to stimulate the vestibular canals.
Your Best Balance – Important Anatomy
When we talk about your inner ear, also known as the vestibular system, remember that there are three canals on each side.
You have a horizontal canal, an anterior and a posterior.
They’re oriented at 90 degrees to one another, and they work to tell your brain about head and neck movements and also to coordinate your eyes with your inner ear so your brain is getting good information from both systems.
So there really are four primary things that we have to do in order to stimulate both the eye movements and the vestibular system.
Your Best Balance – Exercise #1
So the first thing that we’re going to do, condition number one, is we’re going to keep our head still and we’re going to move our eyes.
Now, the question that comes up in is well, “what direction do I move your eyes or move my eyes?”
The answer is all of them. I want you to imagine there’s a compass in front of you and we’re going to go on the eight basic lines of the compass, our ordinal and cardinal directions.
So I’m using a saccade pencil here.
There’s a letter front of me. I’m going to hold my head still and I’m going to do what’s called a smooth pursuit. I’m going to focus on a letter.
I’m going to go out to my right and then across my left, it’s just back and forth. You don’t have to switch hands, but you can if you want to. Then we’re going to go up and down.
So again, head still and just my eyes are in motion and then my diagonals.
So I go up and right, down and left, and then finally up and left and down and right.
You want to do 5 to 10 repetitions of each of those lines.
So that’s condition one.
Your Best Balance – Exercise #2
Condition two, we now want to keep our eyes still while our head moves.
So remember condition one head still, eyes move. Condition two I want my eyes to be still and my head to move.
So I’m going to again use my pencil. Hold it out in front of me, focus on a letter. I’m going to begin with head rotation.
This is called the vestibulocular reflex, and then I’m going to go into nodding and if you can see my eyes, I’m just focusing on the same point over and over as I go through the different motions.
Now I need to take my nose down and left, up and right.
And then finally, my nose down and right, up and left.
So that’s our second exercise.
Your Best Balance – Exercise #3
Our third exercise is coordinating them.
So now I want my eyes and head moving together so I’m going to be using arm movement, head movement and eye movement.
I’m imagining that my nose, my eyes are all locked to the pencil. So now I’m going to begin my rotations. Side to side, usually try to keep the rest of the body still, as you do this, it’s a little bit challenging to do it on the camera.
We like to call this VOR cancellation, vestibulocular reflex cancellation. Because now, my brain is having to stop that reflex or inhibit that reflex as I go through my different movements.
And you can make it as smooth as you want.
You can go as fast as you want.
Your Best Balance – Exercise #4
Last but not least, we now want the head and eyes moving in opposite directions.
So for this one again, I’m going to start off with my pencil in front of me. I’m going to be turning my head to the left, as my pencil or turning my head to the right as my pencil, move to the left. So now I have a countering head and eye movement condition occurring.
So I go to my vertical.
So it’s the pencil goes down. My head goes up.
So this is a combination of the vestibular canal movements with the smooth pursuit exercises that we did for number one.
Your Best Balance – Summary & Training Plan
So these again are the four basic ideas that we want to explore.
Obviously, you would want to do these at different speeds.
You would like to make larger movements whenever you can, but also nice and tight and small.
There’s a lot of different ways to work on this. Now it is critical to us as brain-based practitioners that you see how these affect you.
So I recommend that you do some range of motion or strength testing, or pain testing and that you then retest, after each one of these exercises.
If you want a little bit more guidance, working up to 5 to 10 repetitions or maybe, 30 seconds for each one of the lines is a nice goal to shoot for.
In the beginning, you also might consider using a metronome.
If you set a metronome between 120 and 180 beats per minute, that would be the speed at which you would want to work toward for each of these different movements.
I can guarantee you that the most complicated one usually is the last one where I’m moving my eyes and head opposite one another. So for that one you might want to begin with very, very small movements so that you can make sure that you acquire the appropriate coordination.
These are challenging, but like I said, these are the basic standards that you want to be working toward to improve your vestibular function.