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Subject: A New Idea about the Wobblies Part 1
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I would like to relate my experience with curing the wobblies, as it might help others struggling with the same problem. If you decide to assess for yourself whether you might have the same cause of your wobblies, it will take you less time than it will take to read this post. My experience might be relevant to only a subset of acro pilots because it is likely that there are multiple causes of the wobblies.

The Hypothesis

I propose a reinterpretation of the idea that the wobblies can be caused by problems in the neck muscles, which was suggested by Fred DeLacerda in an article in Sport Aerobatics (October 2000). He noted that injuries to the neck muscles can cause vertigo in many other situations, and he speculated that aerobatics can cause similar injuries. In cases where neck muscles are the origin of the wobblies, I think the cause is not injuries to the neck muscles, but trigger points in those muscles.

This is an important distinction for several reasons. First, the treatment proposed by Fred, stretching of the neck muscles prior to flying aerobatics, is a minor part of the treatment for trigger points but by itself it is insufficient and might be counterproductive. Second, the IAC Wobblies Study found a reduced incidence of the wobblies among pilots who do frequent strength training (Sport Aerobatics, February 2003, complete report January 2004). Fred wrote a commentary on that study (Sport Aerobatics June 2004) in which he appeared to regard this as a vindication of his theory, but it wasn’t clear whether he regarded strength training as only a method of preventing the wobblies or also as a treatment. If the actual problem is trigger points, it is absolutely the wrong thing to do strength training as a treatment for the wobblies. Third, most people with the wobblies have not had a recent neck injury which might be aggravated by the stresses of aerobatics. Finally, Fred’s idea isn’t plausible to me. It is possible to move the head in any direction without excessive effort during the +6 and -5g aerobatics that causes my wobblies. I cannot see how stresses on the neck muscles during aerobatics could injure them sufficiently to cause the wobblies.

Trigger points are small tender parts of muscles which cannot be explained by recent injury. While the science of trigger points is meagre, it is speculated that they are small regions of persistent contraction. How they arise is unknown. They appear to cause a variety of symptoms, for reasons that are not understood. The most frequent is pain which often is perceived at some distance from the trigger point. Other symptoms include reduced range of motion and numbness, and dizziness if the trigger points are within the sternocleidomastoid muscles of the neck.

It is generally accepted in the trigger point literature that trigger points can be activated by stresses that do not damage muscle fibres. Thus it seems possible that the stresses of aerobatics might activate latent trigger points in key neck muscles. Once activated they might cause errors in positional information sent to the brain which would cause dizziness just as injuries to neck muscles may cause dizziness.
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