End exercise induced headache

Previously posted on:  www.relieve-migraine-headache.com. – It’s a vicious circle of the worst kind. You get exercise induced headache, and yet it’s that very exercise that could be the most effective way to stop your headaches! Some migraineurs are afraid to exercise, afraid that it may bring on the pounding pain that could last for hours or days. People with tension headaches try to exercise, but find that the pain only increases. What can you do about it?

Why can exercise cause headache?

Exercise induced headache can arrive on your doorstep for a number of reasons. First, it’s important to note that it could be a sign of something very serious. If you get an exertion headache for the first time, or it’s far worse than ever before, see a doctor right away. She can rule out the more serious causes, and make some suggestions.

For most of us, the cause is not serious. Very strenuous exercise is the most common cause. This kind of exercise induced headache most commonly effects people in sports like weightlifting. For migraineurs, it may just be the shock to your system if you’re just starting an exercise program. Changes will often trigger a migraine. Some believe that headaches occur because the blood vessels dilate during exercise. For others, it’s the drop in blood sugar levels.

9 Ways to stop exercise induced headache…

  1. Make sure you’re warming up before starting and cooling down afterwards. Try some easier exercise first, or try a few minutes of stretching. Not only can this eliminate exercise induced headache, it also helps avoid excessive muscle soreness, that could lead to a headache later on.
  2. Start slowly. If you’re just starting an exercise program, don’t start with something intensive. You may want to try something as simple as a daily brisk walk, and then move on once your body is used to it. You are wise to talk to your doctor before starting a new program, especially if you’re over 40 or you have an injury or heart trouble.
  3. Stay well hydrated. That means, drink water!
  4. Avoid exercise that involved prolonged stooping.
  5. If you’ve followed the above suggestions and you’re still getting headaches, try taking a couple of NSAIDs before you start, such as ibuprofen (Advil).
  6. Try gentler exercise. Lower impact, more stretching. If tennis is causing a problem, try swimming instead, for example.
  7. Try taking a drug that constricts blood vessels, such as Ergomar, before you begin (suggestion from Valerie South, RN, of the World Headache Alliance).
  8. If dropping blood sugar levels is a problem try taking a glucose tablet before you begin, and then have a starchy snack or better yet a full meal soon after you finish (within an hour) (from Sue Dyson in Migraines a Natural Approach)
  9. Taper off slowly: If you’re already involved in intense exercise, don’t stop suddenly. If you know you’re going to be taking some time off, slow down the exercise, don’t quit cold turkey. (Check this article from the Journal of Exercise Physiology for this “reverse” exercise induced headache)Commonly used medication: The International Headache Society writes that Indocin (an anti-inflammatory medication) is commonly used to treat this type of headache (primary exertional headache or primary cough headache). Some patients have also used ergotamine tartrate. Caution should be exercised when using these medications – talk to your doctor first.

If you follow these suggestions, and get regular exercise, you should find that the headaches become less and less, and the benefits become greater and greater. Avoiding exercise because of exercise induced headache is a downward spiral. It’s time to go onward and upward!

If you haven’t yet, check out these suggestions for exercise. A lot of the suggestions on this site come from Dr Mauskop’s excellent book, What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Migraines.

One Response to “End exercise induced headache”

  1. aerobics says:

    Hey! I admire your writing and the way you explain things. Some of the comments on here too are insightful. I appreciate you. keep it up!

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