Miami Headache Blog

Exercise Headache

Gabriel Santos - Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Payman Sadeghi, MD

Getting A Headache After Exercise? Here's Why

Wondering why you are left with a throbbing headache after a strenuous work-out in the gym? Many will be surprised to know that headaches linked with exercise are very common and affect a significant number of young athletes. 

It seems paradoxical that exercise which is meant to promote health and well-being can also be a source of painful headaches. The reason behind it is not hard to understand. During a migraine, the blood vessels in the head dilate and stretch nerve endings causing them to send pain signals. Extreme and high-intensity exercise, if started without a proper warm up routine can trigger this effect and cause a headache.

Avoiding Exercise Related Headaches

Don't let headaches dampen your enthusiasm for exercise. It is well-established that those who exercise regularly and keep fit tend to suffer less from migraines. It is just that factors around exercise can work as triggers if care is not taken. In the case of exercise related headaches, precaution is better than cure.

  • Staying hydrated:  Dehydration is the number one trigger for headaches during exercise. If your activity is intense or lengthy, a bottle of vitamin-enhanced water or a sports drink during the exercise can be helpful. On the other hand, if your exercise is light to moderate, sipping water occasionally should suffice.
  • Avoiding humid conditions:  Direct exposure to the sun is a trigger for headaches. When indoors, make sure the air conditioner is well-regulated and the environment is comfortable.
  • Warm-ups are a must: Most triggers for headaches occur when you shock the body from its regular state. If you are getting into a high intensity exercise or sport, prepare your body by starting out slow. If strenuous exercise triggers headaches, stick to milder options like brisk walking in the morning.

Exercise Headache: Benign or Serious?

In most cases, headaches triggered by exercise last anywhere between 10-45 minutes. Doctors normally prescribe anti-inflammation, over-the counter medication to sportspersons to swiftly bring them relief. This is seldom something to worry about. However, if you are experiencing a headache only during exercise, and it is a particularly debilitating one, it might be a warning sign. It could indicate a neurological problem or abnormal blood-flow to the brain. There could also be numbness and tingling. This is when medical help needs to be sought immediately.

The Miami Headache and Neurological Institute specializes in treating all kinds of headaches. With advanced research and an excellent team of doctors you can be assured of the best counseling, diagnosis and treatment that will help you get rid of your exercise headaches.Call us at 305.440.5969 and put an end to the vicious cycle of cluster headaches or use our contact form to book a consultation.

Dr. Payman Sadeghi is the founder of the Miami Headache and Neurological Institute. He studied medicine at Nordestana University and finished his Internal Medicine internship and Neurology residency at the University of Texas.  Dr. Sadeghi has completed an electromyography super fellowship as well as many epilepsy and neuroimaging fellowships. At his residency in Neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Dr. Sadeghi gained extensive experience diagnosing and treating headache and migraine patients. That residency, along with Dr. Sadeghi's medical curiosity and his varied clinical experience, has made him a specialist in headaches and their treatment.

Dr. Sadeghi was also a clinical assistant professor during his time at the University of Texas. He is a member of the American Headache Society, the National Headache Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Sadeghi is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Persian.


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