Experiencing vertigo or dizziness during and/or after your run?


At Apex Clinic and Apex Headache Clinic our physiotherapy team regularly treats runners who suffer from vertigo or dizziness during and/or after running.  It might surprise you to learn that there is often a neck component to their dizziness, and that specialist physiotherapists can clear this completely.  Following the correct diagnosis and subsequent treatment, we are getting runners back on their feet, free from the horrible effects of vertigo or dizziness.  In this article, we examine the causes of vertigo and how a specialist physiotherapy approach might just be the cure that you’ve been looking for.

What is vertigo or dizziness?

This common health complaint has devastating symptoms such as a feeling of poor balance when walking and/or running, light headedness or a sense of ‘being removed’ from the world and a heavy, fussy head feeling, a bit like the feeling of a hangover. Vertigo is usually triggered by certain or abrupt head movements, and it’s often triggered by running due to the high load which is transmitted throughout the spine, especially the neck while running.  Here at Apex Clinic, we have extensive experience in treating vertigo or dizziness and it’s very rewarding for us to clear it.

Causes of vertigo

Vertigo in runners can be caused by a variety of factors, such as dehydration, low blood pressure and low blood sugar from lack of food.  These types of vertigo are typically brought on by longer runs or sprints, which can deplete your water and nutrients. If your dizziness falls under these categories, your GP should be able to diagnose and manage your symptoms. However, if you are not just experiencing vertigo as a result of running, or your vertigo has not cleared up following a course of medication or action used to treat vertigo from other sources, then it may be that your neck is actually causing your vertigo and finding the correct origin of your vertigo is essential.

Vertigo is usually benign and not life threatening, however rarely, more serious conditions can cause vertigo.  Your GP should be able to rule out more serious causes of vertigo if needed.

Finding the source of your vertigo

Clearing your vertigo begins with getting the right diagnosis. What is commonly unknown is that, in the general population there are in fact two main causes of vertigo:  vertigo stemming from an inner ear dysfunction, called vestibular vertigo, and vertigo originating from the upper neck region of the spine, called cervical vertigo.  Cervical vertigo is very often overlooked or misdiagnosed as a cause of vertigo, even though its occurrence is very common.  It is usually the result of stiffness or damage to the upper neck joints of the spine, but usually the sufferer experiences no actual neck pain, only dizziness.  While running, a greater load is placed on the neck joints, which can trigger vertigo symptoms in the process.

Cervical vertigo is often misdiagnosed as vestibular vertigo.  One of the features of cervical vertigo is that it does not respond to drugs used to treat inner ear vertigo, so if your vertigo hasn’t cleared up with medication, then it’s time to consider if it could be stemming from your neck.

On the initial or first appointment at Apex, the specialist physiotherapist will assess your neck to determine if your neck is triggering your vertigo. The majority of runners with vertigo that we see in the clinic have already been diagnosed with vertigo coming from another source, but unfortunately they haven’t responded to the treatment or management which they have tried for that type of vertigo.

Specialist physiotherapy can clear vertigo or dizziness in runners

For over 20 years, Apex Clinic and Apex Headache Clinic have been successfully diagnosing and treating vertigo (which stems from the neck) and the whole physiotherapy team have been extensively trained by Rebecca Nelson, our Director of Physiotherapy in the manual regimes that she uses to assess and treat it.  The regime which we use is based on Australian and New Zealand manual physiotherapy techniques and then Rebecca further developed it herself, from her own vast experience of treating vertigo sufferers. Rebecca’s unique manual physiotherapy treatment involves gentle and safe mobilisation techniques of the targeted segments of the upper neck region of the spine.  The treatment usually starts to be effective within the first few sessions and in most cases, this type of vertigo or dizziness can be cleared completely.

Don’t let vertigo ruin your running life or life in general. Get it cleared and you can enjoy your running again.