Vertigo is when you feel like you’re spinning while standing still or your surroundings are moving when they’re not. Some exercises can provide relief.

Before reviewing these exercises, it’s important to note that there are two kinds of vertigo:

  • Peripheral vertigo is caused by a problem in the inner ear or vestibular nerve. It accounts for about 93 percent of all vertigo cases.
  • Central vertigo is caused by a problem in the brain.

Vertigo exercises are designed to treat peripheral vertigo caused by benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).

This is a condition that happens when small calcium carbonate crystals from another part of your ear enter the semicircular canal of your inner ear. These exercises help to redistribute those crystals.

If you have central vertigo or peripheral vertigo that’s not caused by BPPV, these exercises won’t work for you.

Brandt-Daroff exercises use gravity to help dislodge crystals from the semicircular canal.

Follow these steps to try Brandt-Daroff exercises:

  1. Sit in the middle of a bed with your feet on the floor. Turn your head 45 degrees to the right.
  2. Without moving your head, lie down on your left side. Wait for the dizziness to pass, then wait 30 more seconds. If you’re not dizzy, pause for 30 seconds.
  3. Return to the starting position. Pause for 30 seconds.
  4. Turn your head 45 degrees to the left. Repeat steps two and three on the right side.
  5. Return to the starting position. Pause for 30 seconds.
  6. Complete one set of five repetitions on each side.

Before standing up, wait for any dizziness to pass.

Aim to do one set in the morning and another at night. Repeat every day for 2 weeks.

The Semont maneuver, or liberatory maneuver, is another exercise for BPPV. It takes slightly less time than the Brandt-Daroff exercises, but it’s best to do it under the supervision of your healthcare provider.

If you have left-ear BPPV, your provider will likely walk you through the following steps:

  1. Sit upright on the edge of a bed and turn your head 45 degrees to the right.
  2. Swiftly drop to the left until your head is on the bed. Hold for 1 minute.
  3. In one movement, quickly move your body to the right side. Don’t change the angle of your head (you should now be facing the floor).
  4. Hold for 1 minute. Slowly return to starting position.

If you have right-ear BPPV, turn your head to the left and drop on your right side first.

Sit for 10 minutes after performing this maneuver. Repeat it once a day until your symptoms have resolved.

The Epley maneuver is another popular exercise for vertigo.

The original Epley maneuver requires help from a healthcare provider. But the modified version below can be done on your own at home. This version is known as the home Epley maneuver.

Follow these steps if you have left-ear BPPV. If you have right-ear BPPV, complete the steps in the opposite direction:

  1. Sit upright in bed. Place your legs straight ahead and put a pillow behind you.
  2. Turn your head 45 degrees to the left.
  3. Lie back quickly until your shoulders are on the pillow. Wait for your dizziness to subside, plus 30 seconds.
  4. Turn your head 90 degrees to the right without lifting it. Hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Turn your body until you’re lying on your right side. Wait for the dizziness to subside, plus 30 seconds.
  6. Sit upright on the right edge of the bed.

Sit upright for 15 minutes after performing the Epley maneuver. Repeat once a day until you don’t experience symptoms for 24 hours.

The Foster maneuver, sometimes called the half somersault, is one of the easiest exercises for vertigo — it doesn’t require you to be in bed or have help from another person.

Follow these directions if you have left-ear BPPV. If you have right-ear BPPV, do these steps on the right side:

  1. Kneel down and place your hands on the floor. Tilt your head up and back. Wait until any dizziness passes.
  2. Place your forehead of the floor, tucking your chin toward your knees.
  3. Turn your head 45 degrees to face your left elbow. Hold for 30 seconds.
  4. Keeping your head 45 degrees, raise your head until it’s level with your back and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Raise your head to the fully upright position.

You may need to repeat the maneuver four or five times to feel relief. Wait 15 minutes in between each attempt.

It’s not uncommon for these exercises to temporarily cause dizziness — even after doing just a single movement.

To do these exercises safely, take your time. Wait 30 seconds — or until the dizziness passes — between each movement. You should also wait at least 30 seconds before standing up.

It’s also important to get a formal diagnosis before trying these exercises. If your vertigo isn’t caused by BPPV, these moves may cause even more problems.

Your healthcare provider may also recommend you do these exercises more or less frequently, depending on your needs. They can also show you modifications if you have limited mobility.