What’s inside this article: A brief overview of the vestibular system, which is stimulated by hanging upside down, followed by the benefits of inverting the head, and a list of child friendly activities you can try.
Hanging upside down is one of the most powerful ways to stimulate the vestibular system. This type of sensory input may be vital for self-regulation.
It’s important to know what the vestibular system is before explaining the benefits of hanging upside down.
What Is The Vestibular System?
Basically, our vestibular system is one of our sensory systems, just like sight, taste, etc.
This lesser-known sensory system plays a role in:
Every movement we make stimulates our vestibular system, which is located in our inner ear.
If you’re interested in reading about how the vestibular system works in depth you can read all about it here.
If your child shows signs of vestibular seeking behaviors, then planned sensory activities that involve hanging upside down (inverting the head) may benefit them.
Hanging upside down provides a
Vestibular Seeking Behaviours
How can you tell if your child is seeking vestibular input? Here are some behavioral clues to look out for:
Kids who excessively seek vestibular input (my own child included) can have it seriously interfere with their functioning on a daily basis.
It’s nearly impossible for a child to sit still and concentrate at school when their vestibular system is under-responsive.
The Benefits of Hanging Upside Down
My children hang upside down off the couch all the time. They are literally just hanging there, watching TV, talking to each other. As it turns out, there are some serious sensory benefits to inverting the head.
Activities that involve hanging upside down are the most effective when done for short periods of time throughout the day.
For example, you could try planned sensory breaks every two hours that last 5 to 7 minutes each (they don’t need to be upside down that whole time.)
Plus, the benefits of hanging upside down can last for hours. In fact, we could all benefit from hanging upside down for short increments during the day.
Benefits of Inverting the Head
There are many benefits to hanging upside down. Including:
Although there can be risks involved if hanging upside down for extended periods of time, generally speaking, kids can hang upside down as often as they like. as long as you are following their cues.
If at any time your child indicates that they don’t want to be upside down, or they complain of feeling, you should stop immediately.
Activities That Involve Hanging Upside Down
There are a lot of different ways you can fit inverting the head into regular play with your kids.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Other Vestibular Input Activities
Hanging upside down is not the only thing that stimulates the vestibular system – although it is one of the most effective and unique experiences.
Other activities and games you can play include:
If you’d like even more ideas for sensory activities, read: 52 Vestibular Input Activities for Sensory Seekers
What About Spinning?
One of my kids’ favorite outdoor activities is to roll down grassy hills over and over. Afterward, they are the calmest and most well-behaved versions of
That’s because spinning is another activity that stimulates the vestibular system.
This, too, can be helpful for some children. Just remember, the way your child spins can have a different effect on their state of regulation.
For example, calm, slow and steady spinning in a single direction can be calming and help soothe and regulate.
But fast spinning and quickly jolting around may be over-stimulating or be arousing and lead to hyperactivity or dysregulation.
My son can’t get enough vestibular input. He can spin forever and never feel dizzy.
But, if your child doesn’t enjoy or react well to an activity like spinning or hanging upside down, don’t force them to participate. Everybody processes input differently.
One of the best ways to avoid sensory seeking behavior, and meltdowns, is to be proactive. Regular sensory breaks and hanging upside down can improve your child’s focus and prevent excessive hyperactivity throughout the day.
Check out this 7-minute morning activity for kids that can help improve self-regulation.
Plus discover some more excellent strategies for proactively preventing meltdowns here.