Cawthorne’s Head Exercises

Cawthorne exercises are used to reinforce the associations between your balance mechanism and your eyes. The following exercises may help decrease the sensation of unsteadiness for certain types of dizziness. Virtually all patients using these exercises will note improved balance, but it may take a few weeks. Just as Physical Therapy may increase strength, balance can also be strengthened by doing these exercises repeatedly. It is important to start slowly because quick head movements can make anyone lightheaded at first. Slowly increase the speed and duration of exercises as tolerated.

Exercises are to be repeated twice a day increasing to 30 minutes.

Eye Exercises

Looking up, then down, at first slowly, then quickly 20 times. Focus on one finger at arm’s length, moving finger one foot closer and back again 20 times.

Head Exercises

Bend head forward then backward with the eyes open – slowly, later quickly, 20 times. Turn head from one side to the other side – slowly, then quickly 20 times. As dizziness decreases, these exercises should be done with the eyes closed.


While sitting, shrug shoulders 20 times. Turn shoulders to the right, then to the left 20 times. Bend forward and pick up an object from the ground and sit up 20 times.


Change from sitting to standing and back again 20 times with they eyes open. Repeat with the eyes closed. Throw a small ball from hand to hand above eye level. Throw a ball from hand to hand under one knee.

Moving About

Walk across the room with the eyes open, then closed 10 times. Walk up and down a slope with eyes open. Any game involving stooping or turning is good.

Metropolitan ENT