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Better Movement Series : Vestibular Health

When using a movement approach to vestibular health one must exercise caution. The majority of us will be fine, but there are people with conditions that would not benefit from this type of training. If you haven’t done anything like this before start slow, small and easy.

The Vestibular Labyrinth

  • the vestibular labyrinth partly consists of 3 semi circular canals
  • each canal detects a type of head motion, information from all 3 canals allow the brain to figure out direction of motion.

The 3 Semicircular Canals detect 3 motions :

  • up and down as in ‘yes’
  • side to side as in ‘no’
  • lateral tilts – like pouring water out of your ears

Practicing these 3 head motions is also great for neck mobility!

The Vestibular System plays a major role in Balance. However there are 2 other players in what makes up Human Balance; Vision and Proprioception. (Underlying all this is the efficiency of your nervous system to send and receive information, and your brain or spinal chords ability to interpret and react to that info. But this is outside the scope of this post.)

Here are some things to consider when using a movement approach to Vision and Proprioception

VISION – actions of the eyes and head

  • eyes focus on one spot with no movement
  • eyes focus on one spot but the head moves
  • eyes track moving spot without moving head
  • eyes and head track a moving spot


  • focus on ankles and hips and getting stability from the core
  • close your eyes while practicing to enhance the effect
  • practice ‘Re-Balancing’ – that is, almost falling over but catching yourself and bringing yourself back into balance. (shout out to Ido Portal)
  • practice at an 8 / 10 intensity – that is, if you do 10 reps only 2 reps should actually make you fall. 80% of your efforts should be successful, if not then what you are doing is too challenging!

My Top 3 Balance Drills

>>> 1/2 kneeling 3 way neck mobility

>>> Single Leg Standing Eye Tracking

>>> Eyes Close Toe touches : x 1 set heels elevated, x 1 set toes elevated.

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Balance Training ‘For Me’

Improving your balance is possible at any age!

If you learn a few things about how balance work and you follow a few rules, you will be well on your way to improving your balance.

First things first,

Balance is the ability to control one’s centre of mass over their base of support.

Balance involved INPUT from your body and environment – and OUTPUT from your brain. These input and output messages are conducted by the Nervous System.


Balance involves 3 components and how they interact with each other.

  • The Visual System (eyes)
  • The Vestibular System in your ears
  • Proprioception / sensory input

To TEST your ability to integrate these three system into your balance at any one time, clinicians use the CTSIB “Clinical Test for Sensory Integration of Balance” (super original).

I will Break the CTSIB down simply:

  1. can you sand on one foot with your eyes open?
  2. can you stand on one leg while rotating your head?
  3. can you stand on one foot with your eyes close?
  4. can you close you eyes and rotate your head?

Do each of these in order – whichever one you get stuck on, practice the heck out of it. Moreover, try to include it into your daily routine. For Example: if #3 challenges you – consider doing a set or 2 of any exercise in your workout with your eyes closed.

A Good Rule to Follow:

When training your balance – as with most things in life – follow the 80/20 principle

If you are doing a set of 10, only 2 of them should be difficult enough to challenge your balance.

That is right, only 2 reps.

But those 2 reps are important because the act of ‘re-balancing’ is the skill that you want to practice. It is this skill of re-balancing that is required when faced with loss of balance. However that skill can only really be trained by actually losing your balance, and then catching and re-centering yourself.

This bring into the conversation another important rule – the principle of Specificity. Your training should imitate as much as possible the movements you want to improve. Makes sense right?

The Next Step is Practice.

You must implement this stuff yourself if no one else is!