Why Am I So Dizzy: Common Causes for Dizziness and What To Do About It

3 Things to Try if You Think Tight Neck Muscles Could Be Causing Dizziness

A muscle on the front of your neck called the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) could be tight and can make you feel woozy and nauseous.

Dizziness is super common and definitely not normal.  A lot of people will “deal with it”, especially if it is mild and they have no idea why it is happening.  Too much caffeine or alcohol, and not enough water or sleep can definitely contribute to dizziness.  Change of medication or not managing stress effectively are also causes.  As a physical therapist, oftentimes I see that it is tight neck muscles that are causing dizziness, as well as migraines, headaches or neck pain.  A muscle on the front of your neck called the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) could be tight and can make you feel woozy and nauseous.  

Here are 3 things to try if you think tight neck muscles (and your SCM) could be causing you to feel wonky. 

To stretch the left SCM muscle:

 Sit upright in a chair. Tuck your left hand under your left thigh/buttock.  Tip your right ear to the side to your right shoulder, then turn to the left to look up at the ceiling.  Do this very gently, especially if you are dizzy at the time.  Do it on both sides of your body and see if one side feels worse than the other.  Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, but stop if you feel lightheaded. 

Have a foam roller?

Put it on the ground and sit on it, then lie down on it so that the back of your head rests on it and the roller is up your spine.  Tuck your chin down to lengthen the back of your neck (give yourself 20 double chins).  Stretch your arms overhead or to the side (like a snow angel).  If you don’t have a foam roller, you can roll up a big towel or just lie flat on the floor!

Breathe into belly, instead of using neck muscles:

Chances are when you take a deep breath your chest raises. When you breathe with your chest instead of breathing into your belly, your neck muscles have to work a lot harder than they should, and they take more breaths per minute.  Lie flat on your back. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.  When you inhale, try to breathe into your belly so your hand raises, your belly fills with air. As you exhale, your belly flattens out.  Take it to the next level and when you inhale, fill your entire middle section with air (think of breathing into your back).  This will give your neck muscles a nice relaxing break.

Tight muscles can cause lots of havoc.  Try these things and if you still need help, please schedule an appointment with a physical therapist near you!