The three systems that contribute to healthy balance=

1. Vision

2. Proprioception (that’s the fancy medical term for the body’s awareness of it’s position in space)

3. Vestibular system i.e. “the inner ear”.

The vestibular system can be off kilter for several reasons.  The most common is that the “salts” (otoliths) are out of alignment (think about the bubble in a level and that it should always be in the center.)  This cause of dizziness can be fixed with a visit to your friendly ENT or physical therapist who is trained in vestibular rehab (at Premier, that would be Curt Krobot, DPT).

A less common and frequently overlooked cause of dizziness is due to tightness/ trigger points in the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle.  As you can see in the picture, the SCM connects right next to the inner ear.  Trigger points at the left SCM will give faulty input to the left vestibular system, which will cause the right vestibular system to become dominant.  Whenever there is an imbalance between the vestibular systems, the person will feel dizzy and/or may walk with a tendency to always veer to the dominant side.

Bottom line: if you have dizziness and/or walk crooked (not on purpose), have a physical therapist check your SCM muscles- they may need stretching and/or dry needling.  Don’t just take my word for it- check out some of the literature…