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Are You Getting Dizzy?

By June 21, 2008

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Orthostatic Hypotension. Now that's a cool phrase you might want to pull out next time you or someone near you experiences a "head rush". Orthostatic hypotension is a sudden moment of low blood pressure which is often brought on by moving too quickly from a horizontal to a vertical position. Almost all of us have had that sudden dizzy feeling from standing up too fast.

Some people experience the head rush effect in Pilates when an exercise takes them from lying down to upright quickly. Recently, a reader wrote to me and said she had that experience doing the tree exercise on the reformer. It can be very disconcerting to suddenly find oneself dizzy, maybe on verge of fainting (syncope), right in the middle of a class.

A commonly suggested solution for the head rush effect is to come upright more slowly. Another suggestion I have read about (this is hearsay, not super science), and this makes sense in a Pilates context, is to keep the abs engaged but inhale rather than exhale into a very deep scoop - as some of us do in exercises like the tree or the roll up. The inhale, along with the engaged abs, could help keep the blood pressure up enough to avoid dizziness. This is a safe experiment you can try. If you do, remember to use your lateral breathing.

Of course if you have the dizziness experience regularly, you should definitely check with your health care practitioner to rule out blood pressure that is really too low, heart problems, drug side effects, other causes of orthostatic hypotension - ah, how easy it was to throw our fancy new word in there.

Maybe orthostatic hypostension isn't the cause of your dizziness. There are lots of other reasons, and some fairly easy fixes, for dizziness while exercising. Read more in Avoiding Nausea and Dizziness While Exercising.

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