Balance disorder exercises

If the brain cannot rely on the information it receives from the inner ear, a person’s ability to maintain their balance can become overly dependent on vision or on the information received from the muscles and joints. 

This can lead to developing new patterns of movement to compensate for the change and to avoid movements that can increase their symptoms. 

For example, a person might adopt restricting their neck movement and might swivel their entire body rather than just the head in turning to look at something. Or they might always look down at the floor to avoid excess visual input. 

Unfortunately, these types of adaptation can result in other symptoms. It causes headaches, neck ache, muscle stiffness, general fatigue, and if not altered can make the symptoms much worse. 

Balance retraining exercises (vestibular rehabilitation)

The aim of Vestibular Rehabilitation is to retrain the brain to recognise and process signals from the balance (vestibular) system, in coordination with information from vision and muscles/joints. This often involves desensitising the balance system to movements that provoke symptoms.  

After full assessment of the problem a specialist audiologist or ENT doctor will develop an individualised treatment plan.

This may involve exercises to be performed at home which combine specific head and body movements with eye exercises. It may also include gradually increasing activities and exercise in order to strengthen muscles and increase tolerance for certain movements. 

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Some of the exercises may at first cause an increase in symptoms. This is due to the body and brain attempting to sort out the new pattern of movements. But with time and consistent work, the coordination of signals from the vision, muscles/joints, and vestibular system will occur. 

In most cases, overall balance improves if the exercises are correctly and accurately performed. Other symptoms will diminish, and dizziness, vertigo, and nausea will decrease or disappear. Often, Vestibular Rehabilitation is so successful that no other treatment or medication is required.  

University of Southampton Balance Retraining website

What is Balance Retraining?Balance Retraining is an easy to use, interactive website designed to help with dizziness. Balance Retraining has been designed to be easy for you to use in your own home and gives step-by-step instructions on each page as you go along.
Should I use Balance Retraining?Yes! A research study of nearly 300 people with dizziness showed that those who used Balance Retraining had significantly less dizziness after three and six months, compared to those who didn’t use it.

Doing Balance Retraining could also improve your physical, emotional and functional health and therefore improve your quality of life.

Take a look at the website, then check with your GP/doctor/Audiologist that the exercises would be suitable for you. Visit the University of Southampton website for further information.

Any problems, please email

Webpage updated: April 2024

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