learning to spin & overcome dizziness & nausea

topic posted Tue, April 8, 2008 - 3:29 PM by  Susan
I have checked through the topics and cannot find specific answers (if they exist anyway) to my difficulty with dizziness and nausea after spinning.

Looking through another thread I read of how to find your centre for balancing on one foot. I also have a balancing problem - not sure of the causes though weak ankles from injuries and other issues with balancing, which lead me to bellydancing in the first place. I have had x-rays of my skull to determine cause of balance problem, but nothing sinister was found. For example, when I turn quickly to the right my body could stop, but my head made me continue with the turn, and therefore I would stumble. If I was standing with my head lowered to my chest, and then lifted my head to normal position, I would start to stumble backwards. This has improved since I started dancing - however after one performance with very, very slow and elegant spins at the end of the dance, I had to bend and pick up some veils left on the floor, and I couldn't pick them up because I was internally still spinning. I must have looked like a drunk.

I really, really want to spin, but it makes me feel nauseous for a long time afterwards. I know about spotting (at 1 o'clock), I've been told that I need to let my eyes blink (at 7 o'clock), but after reading the other thread about balance, I wonder if there are points of balance I need to learn to help with the dizziness and resultant nausea.
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  • I have found it is all about tolerance for it. Find your limit on the number of spins you can do (both directions of course). Add onto that one spin or ten seconds at a time every day. Ballet also helped a huge amount with that for me. My balance has not ever been as good as it is now. Don't spin for a little while after a meal. And never forget to spot. Hope that helps, that's what I found helped with me.
    • Felecia is right, I think too that you should get your inner ear checked. Do you start vomiting when you fly in an airplane or sit on a boat? That is a sure sign that your inner ears are different from each other and your sense of balance is impaired. Or did you ever damage one of your ear drums or had a severe ear infection?
      If that is not the case, have yourself checked for very low blood pressure or any possible other causes, your problems do sound a bit pathological to me.
      Ruling out all of the above, you can still option for stretching out your arms to the side when you spin and looking at the thumb of the hand on the side of the direction you are spinning in. That way you will not see the room turning in front of your eyes and it might help with the dizziness.
      Anyway, the ear, nose and thorat doctor is where you want to go.
  • Unsu...
    I've had trouble with my inner ear and have the dizzy/nausea happen as well. I ditto the visit to the ear/nose/throat doctor.

    If I understand it correctly, there are follicles/hairs on the inside of your ear. Sometimes their is calcium (?) buildup that turns into little balls. As you tilt your head up/down or turn, the balls get knocked loose and roll through the hair follicles (think rocks rolling through seaweed on the ocean floor). This causes the imbalance which then causes the nausea.

    For me, I have spells of it where I have to knock loose the calcium buildup. I take dramamene to help with the dizziness during that time.

    I've found, with dancing, I tend to move my head more and the build up is less and less.
    • Unsu...
      Ikiwiki, you have hit the nail on the head! I have the same problem. My ear, nose and throat specialist told me that I have Benign Positional Vertigo that is the result of this "calcium" problem. (I also have moderate-to-severe deafness in both ears and wear hearing aids.) I had an MRI to make sure that I didn't have a tumor in my ear. There are specific exercises that the doctor can give you that hopefully will "shake" the calcium build-up off the follicles. I do have a big problem with doing spins while dancing. Even if I turn over in bed or look up in just the wrong way, I get dizzy. It's not fun, but I can manage with it. It is important to see a doctor because vertigo can accompany a more serious problem, Meniere's Disease. You want your doctor to rule that out.
      Good luck!!!!
  • I have these same issues. Caused by an inner ear infection from 20 years ago and another middle ear infection (same ear... they become hyper sensitive) about 7 or 8 years later. I had an ENT check me over thoroughly with 3 different 'lab' visits for various tests. Why? Because I'm a SCUBA diver too and I needed to get certification than it is safe to dive. He could not find a reason not to dive but questioned why I wanted too. Some people just don't get it.

    I've learned to spot when spinning but I still get stumbling dizzy. The other thing I do is "unscrew myself" by spinning back the other way a time or 2. There is actually a physiological reason that this works. Even big upper body figure 8s make me dizzy.

    Anyway, I hope you find a solution that works for you. I love spinning when I have my silk half-circle veil and lots of chiffon layers of big skirts.
    • Thank you everyone for your replies. At the same time I had the x-ray, I also had a CT scan. My doctor said there might be something like a cyst in the sinuses close to my inner ear. He did not seem particularly concerned about it, and as I wasn't dancing at the time, it satisfied me that it might by the reason for my "over balancing" problem which has improved since I started dancing.

      As for the associated nausea, I will make sure I have a brew of ginger on hand, and work at it a little at a time. Looking at my thumbs with my arms outstretched sounds useful too. As for the unscrewing, I used to do that as a kid. I thought I was a little mad or eccentric doing that, but seems like there is a good reason to do that.

      Cheers, Susan
      • Unsu...
        I have BVP (Benign Positional Vertigo) AND polycystic polyps in my posterior sinuses, so spinning is an absolute no-no for me. I can't fly without medication, can't read in a car, can't ride carnival rides, etc. Nothing helps overcome the dizziness, not spotting, not desensitization. I really hate it, because I would love to be able to spin. I feel "disabled" as a dancer because of it!

        Every now and then, I get a wild hair and decide to try, even though I know it's a bad idea. Just the other day I did two simultaneous spins, TWO. Blammo, ended up off balance and nauseous for the rest of the day. Finally had to dig into the medicine cabinet and pull out the Antivert. Ugh.
  • Let's assume that it's NOT a medical issue...

    * Dehydration can cause dizziness and nausea when spinning. So drink lots of water throughout the day before you dance. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, both of which can dehydrate you.

    * In medical studies, ginger helped about 60% of the people studied avoid nausea. Other than ginger tea, you could try fresh ginger (like what you buy to eat with sushi), powdered ginger capsules, candied ginger (sold in spice dept of grocery stores), or ginger ale made with real ginger. Admittedly, you might be one of the unlucky 40%, but it doesn't hurt to try.

    * Practice, practice, practice. It's one of those things that really does get better. Spin about 3-4 times, then stop still. Hold it. Then spin 3-4 times the other way and stop still. This helps you get used to the physical sensations and helps you start learning to control them. Practice until you start feeling queasy, then stop for the day. Try again the next day. And so on. This, more than anything, helped me.

    * Keep a positive can-do attitude. Psychology can play a huge role. I do lots of spinning, but I too used to have issues with dizziness and nausea. Now, if I stop after an extended spin, I still see the world whirling, but my brain has learned that it doesn't need to panic when this sensation occurs, and I have learned to resist the urge to stagger.
    • I agree with Shira's post - great advice & I'm addicted to candied ginger anyway ;)

      regarding another comment "Ruling out all of the above, you can still option for stretching out your arms to the side when you spin and looking at the thumb of the hand on the side of the direction you are spinning in. That way you will not see the room turning in front of your eyes and it might help with the dizziness."

      spotting often does not work for adults who did not grow up doing it because our neck muscles are too stiff to truly whip the head around fast enough for this method to be effective. Of course, you can work on that flaxibility, but I find this method easier. I teach spinning with the above mentioned technique- you are essentially positioning your 'spot' on your body. start slow & work your way up- if you can only do 2 now, start with 2, in a couple weeks try 3, etc. Then (if you're up for it!) try moving your 'spot' inward- go from fingertips to wrist to forearm to elbow. Eventually most of my students develop an internal 'spot' mentally located about an inch behind your eyeballs. The nice thing about this is that you can see what is going on around you and allows you to be more flexible in where you are spinning.

      regarding turning the other way- this works because you really do get the fluids in your head spinning while you turn, and going the opposite way helps slow that down- but you don't have to do it slowly! after a spin, try snapping back around quickly the other way- doesn't have to be a full turn, even. What works even better but is hard to work into a choreography is jumping straight up & down (wouldn't use in a performance, but if you get too dizzy during practice, it's worth a shot!)

      & then there is my husband who gets sea-sick in the rocking chair. his coping method involves complete concentration and a trancelike state. no idea if my method would help him or not, he's not getting on the dance floor for love nor money!
  • I agree with Shira, those are all good points.

    I started ballet at 4 years of age and those habits I learned have stayed with me. So it may take a slower pace and practice before you get spinning like you want to. But practice is what it takes, for all of us.

    Our bodies are our instrument and we have to take care of it. So eat right, drink pleanty of fluids. Don't know why but I find drinking very diluted kool-aide keeps my tummy and head happy (don't get as dizy) and also altoid mints. Ginger ale for acid/ nervous tummy is always in my stash as well. My son swears by ginger snaps. So listen to your body.

    I suffer from migraines, have a history of sinus problems, get sick to my stomach at the oddest times. But I still dance and am usually ok. At those times that the dizziness & nausea is bad I adapt my solos to suit my level. There may be other times I just don't dance. I know tough call. The last time I backed out, I had been feeling off for weeks and told the person 2 weeks before I would not join in the group jam as invited. Why? An improve with dancers I had not danced with before on a tall stage(No Thank You)

    But the thing is I love to dance so even on days when dancing is hard for me I still maintain a positive mental attitude. I don't stress on the bad days I focus on my good days.
  • One piece of advice I read that really helped is: spinning makes you dizzy. I was fighting so hard to spin and NOT feel dizzy at all that I was frustrated, which did not help. I've been working to get myself used to the sensation by doing whirling style spinning, which someone mentioned here, spinning with my arms out, one palm out, my gaze relaxed and focused on my open palm. I spin slowly so I can think about how I feel and "ride" it, instead of freaking out and worrying about feeling sick. So I still get dizzy, but I'm much more able to deal with it.

    I also spin in the opposite direction to unwind, or when I finish a long spin will maybe give a little hop to center myself. Also, follow a spin with a stationary movement, so you have a moment to collect yourself.

    When I was a kid I had recurrent ear infections, and my sinuses are a mess, so I understand what your saying. Sometimes the slightest thing will send my head spinning, and it's not fun.
  • I second what Shira has said about practice. I have had benign positional vertigo off and on for years and spin practice has paid off. When I was diagnosed with it my physician prescribed a particular exercise to bring on the vertigo on purpose:

    Sit on the edge of your bed, feet planted on the floor and lay back while turning your head to one side. Sit up and lay back again, turning your head to the other side. You can have someone hold your feet down if you need to or you can do this on a mat on the floor. This exercise moves the cochlea in a corkscrew motion that will hopefully get the calcium that has broken off in the fluids inside to settle. The little boogers like to brush against the hairs in the cochlea and wreak all kinds of havock with balance. Just a note about laying back; you need to do it pretty quickly but not so fast you bonk your head!

    It's an easy exercise and it's harmless though it won't feel that way!
  • La Phox you are not the only dancer that is 'disabled'. A couple of years ago I damaged my mcl of my right leg. (Inside of the right knee) Doing certain things now are just a bit difficult or impossible.

    Now back to the regular message:

    If doing solos you can choose not to do any spins, do one you can handle or... if you really want to spin to then go ahead and do it and then work something in that you would do anyway: collapse to the floor in finalie, go in the opposit direction or what ever

    If doing in a group be aware that the other dancers moving can really throw some people off. Learn to spot either above their heads or to spot on the floor, or what ever technique works. Most group spins are not that fast so it is a begining step. You can also do 1 spin for everbodies 2, if you are in the back. Baby steps
    • One other thing that I didn't see mentioned is that when you spin during a performance, if you feel yourself getting dizzy (even after a spin in the opposite direction to "unwind" yourself), just hold out your hand and look at it. My instructor gave us this tip and it really does seem to help. Just hold your hand out, prettily of course, and gaze at it. It helps the room to stop spinning around you and helps with the case of the dizzies. The best part is that no one will be wise to what you're doing! I do this all the time.

      Good luck and happy spinning!!!
  • Please by all means take the advice of everyone else, and please continue to consult with a doctor, or healer..... My spins really started ot take off when I really learned to hold onto my core as I spin it's like I wrap my stomach muscles around a pole.... Almost like I tap into what Chinese consider Chi..... really find that center..... practice yoga balancing & ballet balance.... and of course find spins that werk for you... Good Luck!
    • Hey, thanks everyone for your input. Lots of things to work on. I have been doing small sets of spins now, and did 3 without too much effect!

      Saw a funny video last night of a man bent forward with his hands and head on the top of a baseball bat. He slowly spun around the bat several times and then stood up and tried to run. He stumbled and fell to one side. It looked funny, but something like that happened to me at the end of a performance with slow spins as a finish - then I had to pick up several veils off the floor and walk off and it wasn't funny then!

      Also thinking about your inner core - starting from the fingers and working gradually to your inside core, was something I thought of trying, but wasn't sure of the approach to take. I am also doing yoga now and am improving my balance.

      Thanks everyone for your input. I just love tribe for this.

      Cheers, Susan (in Australia)
  • I'm not a medical professional, but I've done several forms of dance that require spinning and I've improved my spins. Posture was a big issue for me. You should have some one check your posture. If you do something like tilt your head down then you will feel off balance. If you are having a big problem then you should get your ears and eyes checked. Your inner ear is very important. I've seen some people with inner ear problems that really can't do very many turns or spins. The other issue I had problems with was dehydration. I get dizzier faster if I'm dehydrated. If I drink some water when I'm dehydrated within a half hour I can do more spins. Spotting can help as well, and that just takes some practice to get your head to go around faster than your body so you can focus on your spot point. As someone else mentioned turning one way a few rotations and then switching back the other way helps me.

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