How to Prevent an Exercise-Induced Migraine

...

Sometimes a good workout can end badly when you develop an exercise-induced migraine headache. Some of these headaches are caused by the physical exertion of the body during exercise, while others are caused by the sudden drop of blood sugar brought on by intense physical activity. Identifying which is the trigger for your exercise-induced headaches will help you decide what will work best to prevent them.

Step 1

young woman jogging on a treadmill
Warm up. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Warm up. Warming up before exercise is a critical step in any exercise program, but it is especially important to prevent migraines after exercising because it allows your body to slowly work up to an active level, and it can help prevent muscle soreness, which can further complicate or provoke a migraine later on.

Step 2

two young woman exercising with dumbbells
Begin slowly. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Begin slowly. According to Sue Dyson, author of "Migraines a Natural Approach," some doctors believe migraines after exercising may be the result of the shock of sudden activity on the body. Therefore, easing the body into activity beyond the warm-up can help further lower the chance of an exercise-induced migraine.

Step 3

Close-up of a woman drinking glass of water
Stay hydrated. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Stay hydrated. Your body will react poorly to any kind of stress or strain when it is dehydrated, and migraine sufferers will find that staying well hydrated may help in and out of the gym.

Step 4

Couple with bikes
Choose less forceful or lower-impact exercises. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Choose less forceful or lower-impact exercises. Weightlifting seems to be more likely to cause migraines, and some believe this is because of the stopping involved in the exercise since this movement can cause the blood vessels in the head to dilate. No matter what form of exercise you have been doing, you can try to switch to something less strenuous.

Step 5

Woman writing in datebook
Keep a regular exercise schedule. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Keep a regular exercise schedule. According to a study published in the Journal of Exercise Physiology, doctors found that a sudden cessation of an exercise program caused an increase in migraine episodes, and that exercise-induced migraines were also more frequent when they began their exercise routine again.

Step 6

Close-up of a dish of Chinese food
Eat a full meal within an hour after exercising. (Image: Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Eat a full meal within an hour after exercising. Be sure this meal includes proteins and starches to help raise your blood sugar back up to normal levels.

Step 7

close-up of a young woman holding a glass of water and pills
Take some preventative medication before exercising. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Take some preventative medication before exercising. Try taking some ibuprofen first, but if this does not help, you can move to a stronger medication recommended by your doctor. You can also try taking a glucose tablet before exercising if you suspect that your migraines are due to the drop in blood sugar caused by exercising.

Step 8

Young woman performing yoga pose in home
Cool down. (Image: ULTRA F/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Cool down. Just as the beginning of an exercise session can be a shock to the system, the end can be as well, so taper your exercise off slowly to prevent more shock to the system.

Tip

Don't stop exercising because of the headaches. Though it seems ironic, exercising appears to actually help keep migraines from occurring on a regular basis.

Warning

Severe headaches from exercising can be a sign of some serious trouble. If you experience extreme headaches, or experience the headache for the first time but you have not changed your exercise regimen, be sure to see your doctor.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.