MATRIX Personalized Fitness
More than just your muscles


Get the latest news, updates, events and happenings from MATRIX Personalized Fitness located in East Greenwich, Rhode Island (RI).

Sensory Tools: Balance (Part 1)

Sensory Tools: Balance (Part 1)

By Shane Sauer

Your vestibular system, also know as the inner ear, is a crucial piece of your Brain’s Toolbox. The inner ear is close to your eyes (we’ll call them neighbors) and they work together intimately. (If you missed the last few blogs about your eyes, be sure to check them out too: Vision #1 & Vision #2)

The inner ear is constantly sending information to your brain about gravity and, more importantly, your relationship with gravity.  Your brain typically trusts the information from your eyes the most, but your eyes aren't always open. Your inner ear is always “on”, though, so its information is ALWAYS being used by the brain, especially when your eyes are closed.

Here is a short list of the things your inner ear does:

  1. Balance – Remember that the brain, first and foremost, is about survival.  So, preventing you from falling down and whacking your head is a top priority for the brain.  Since the inner ear tells your brain about its relationship to gravity, balance is one of the inner ear’s most significant functions.
  2. Posture – To walk upright, you need to know which way is up.  That's the inner ear's job as it communicates directly with the muscles that control your neck and spine.  If you’re a person who always has a stiff neck or poor posture, some bad vestibular information could be the culprit.
  3. Blood Pressure – Standing up requires a higher blood pressure than sitting or lying down.  If you stand up too fast and your inner ear doesn’t communicate that change quickly enough, you might pass out. (This is, of course, a problem. See #1 above).
  4. Movement – While, balance, posture and blood pressure all play big roles in movement, your inner ear and your eyes also collaborate to make sure that your vision is clear as you move.  The vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) keeps your eyes focused on a single point by making small eye adjustments to counteract your head’s movements.  Remember I said the eyes and inner ear neighbors? Only three neurons must communicate between your eyes and inner ear to make the VOR happen; it’s the fastest reflex in your body. When it doesn’t work properly, your life appears like a bad home movie.
Vestibular System or Inner Ear - The purple snail looking thing.

Vestibular System or Inner Ear - The purple snail looking thing.

To further illustrate how important this system really is, here are some of the health issues people deal with when their inner ear is not working properly:

  1. Nausea
  2. Vertigo
  3. Scoliosis

All things we’d like to avoid, right?

Now that you know what this system is capable of and how important it is, be sure to check out part 2 of this blog. I’ll discuss some things you can do to keep your inner ear healthy and improve its function.

Check out this video that exapnds on and takes a deeper look at the information presented in this blog.
You can find also find other videos from MATRIX Personalized Fitness on YouTube.