By Simon Gould
Vertigo is an unfortunate symptom of a problem with the way balance works. It can be an issue with the inner ear or various brain problems. Vertigo attacks usually last only a few seconds but can last longer for some people. It can present itself as sudden dizziness and in some cases a migraine. Many people think it’s a fear of heights and the associated dizziness but it’s not.
How a treadmill can cause vertigo
Just like any movement can be a trigger for vertigo sufferers, a treadmill can cause it. You’re walking or running so your head moves around on the spot. It’s like a motion sickness problem in some cases. When you stop or sometimes while you’re exercising, you may suddenly feel dizzy. It can happen outside and inside. It’s the vigorous movement that triggers it.
If you’re a fan of sport and golf, there was a famous vertigo incident that occurred to a popular player in the US Open. As reported by CBS Sports (with a video) golfer Jason Day, who was leading in 2015, suffered a bout of vertigo that made him collapse. He was just walking on the 9th hole. He never fully recovered for the tournament. He had tests and scans afterwards but no cause was found.
The nature of the problem is sometimes it’s difficult to diagnose. If it can occur to a professional sportsman it can happen to anyone. Other movements can trigger it like getting up suddenly out of bed and other everyday activities. If it happens pervasively and affects your daily life, especially if it prevents you from exercising and other regular activities, a doctor should be seen.
It usually only happens in people who are predisposed
If you know you have vertigo or you frequently get dizzy, then you may on a treadmill. It doesn’t happen for everyone. If you’re thinking of buying a treadmill and you’re apprehensive in case it can trigger attacks, perhaps you can test one at a store. You can even rent a treadmill. Anything rather than a big expense for something you may find you can’t use.
If you have vertigo, it’s about managing the condition. Stress can make it worse and exercising on a treadmill can relieve stress. This is the same with anxiety, it makes vertigo worse and exercise can relieve it. So it would be a shame to reject a treadmill entirely, especially if you enjoy walking or running. So we need to find ways of minimizing an attack.
How the risks can be minimized on a treadmill
Some sufferers actually take medication to help prevent a bout of vertigo occurring. There are other ways you can prevent it coming and I’ll go through the ways you can still workout on a treadmill without getting dizzy. You may have ways you can perform other activities without the problem affecting you. What we need to do is slowly introduce the exercise.
Try doing some gentle dynamic stretching before you start. Then do a 5 minute warm up by brisk walking on your treadmill. When you’ve finished your main exercise routine, do a 5 minute brisk walk cool down. Followed by your dynamic stretching again. All this is to reduce any motion sickness which could cause your dizziness and vertigo to flare up.
So if you normally run on a treadmill, then walk and get slightly quicker over the space of several minutes. Don’t make any sudden speed changes so your body can get used to the movement. This is the same for when you’ve finished your workout. Gradually reduce the speed to when you finally stop. This routine should hopefully keep any dizziness at bay and allow you to exercise regularly.
Make sure you’re well hydrated as this can be a contributing factor. This includes consuming plenty of liquid before, during and after exercising. Eat well too but directly before your workout. Test your blood pressure as this can cause dizziness especially when you stand up or move your head suddenly. Don’t exercise if you’re tired.
Underlying health problems causing dizziness?
Check with your doctor to see if there’s any underlying cause for your dizziness. There can be problems with your blood sugar level, inner ear, heart issues and side effects from any medications you may be taking. It’s worth ruling these out for your peace of mind. Especially see someone if it’s sudden or gets worse.
You may have to resort to using a more stationary way of exercising if it’s getting too bothersome. An exercise bike can provide a similar workout to a treadmill and is less likely to cause dizzy spells. You need to think about if it only occurs on a treadmill or in other areas of your life. These are all questions a professional would have for you to ascertain what could be the issue.
Vertigo can be a debilitating symptom but it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t need to get in the way of doing something which is very good for your health, and that is exercising. The symptoms can be very frustrating and worrying at times. There are steps you can take to manage the condition. It doesn’t have to stop you using a treadmill.
Running on a treadmill is really no difference to running outside except that you are not moving forward, you’re running on the spot. There is less movement than running outside because your head moves more running outside with the gradients and other obstacles. But the fact you don’t go anywhere is what causes some disorientation for you.
- The University of Iowa Hospital has an interesting frequently asked questions article about vertigo
- The University of Michigan Health have an effective “Brandt-Daroff” exercise for vertigo sufferers
Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked*