This article is from the Recreational Figure Skating FAQ, by Karen Bryden with numerous contributions by others.
The three semicircular canals of the inner ear are primarily
associated with equilibrium. They are filled with fluid and operate on
the principle of inertia of fluid. Each canal has tiny hair-like
sensors that relate to the brain the motion of the fluid. Rotation of
the body tends to move the fluid, causing the displacement of the
sensors which then transmit to the brain the message of the direction
of their displacement.
However, if the turn is a prolonged and constant one, the motion of
the fluid catches up to the canal walls, the sensors are no longer
bent, and the brain receives the incorrect message that the turning
has stopped. If the turn does then indeed stop, the movement of the
fluid and the displacement of the sensors will indicate a turn in the
opposite direction (which is the sensation of dizziness).
Problems with dizziness seem to be worse if the spin is not well
centered or travels, probably because the movement of the fluid in the
inner ear canals is not symmetrical. Looking down while spinning is a
great way to get really dizzy.
Mild dizziness after a spin can be quickly overcome if you skate off
or do one or two turns in the opposite direction. This is better than
just standing still because motion in a new direction will help
redirect the flow of the inner ear liquid.
If you get very, very dizzy, it helps to go to the boards and hang
onto something solid. Stand still, relax, and place your right index
finger between your eyebrows and press gently for about 10 seconds.
Focus on something still. Try not to throw up. The Zamboni driver will
The good news is that the longer you train spins, the more tolerant
you become to dizziness. The reason for this is that, as the brain
continues to receive contradictory sensory input over and over, it
just learns to ignore the confusing information. Therefore, practicing
spins on the floor or with a spin trainer can be beneficial if you
have problems with dizziness on ice.