You love to stay fit, but should you work out with a headache? Working out is a great way to protect your overall health. Through regular exercise, you can maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and support your body. But there are times when exercising is not the best thing for your body.
If you experience chronic headaches, you’ve probably missed a gym day or two. It can be tempting to try to “work through the pain” and do your best to work out with a headache regardless. Still, you should be careful. In many cases, exercising can make a headache worse.
“SHOULD I WORK OUT WITH A HEADACHE?”
Headaches have many causes. The most common type of headache is the tension headache. Muscle tension in the head, neck, or elsewhere can cause tension headaches, but dozens of other possible causes exist.
Some headaches are created by serious, undiagnosed medical conditions. For example, problems with the blood vessels of the head, the optic nerves, or many other body systems can cause headaches. In this case, working out with a headache can be dangerous.
“DOES EXERCISE HELP HEADACHES?”
Exercise can help some headaches – especially those caused by stress.
If you are certain your headaches are caused by stress or other lifestyle factors, you might try a light work out with a headache to see how your headache responds. Remember, it can take months before lifestyle changes affect your headaches.
TRY THESE TIPS FOR BETTER EXERCISE
Maintain Good Posture
No matter what kind of exercise you’re engaged in, you should do your best to maintain proper form. Good form helps prevent injury and distributes the benefits of exercise more fully throughout the body, especially if you work out with a headache. As you tire, the form gets harder – be sure to pace yourself.
Warm Up First
Never start with the most intense exercise you are capable of. Always warm-up for at least five minutes at a slow or moderate pace. Make sure to slow down for five to 10 minutes at the end of every workout.
Dehydration and other short term issues can cause headaches. You can prevent these by drinking plenty of fluids when you work out with a headache, which will help you perform better in any case. Be sure to keep water handy when exercising.
Tips for Relieving a Pre- or Post-Workout Headache
There’s nothing more frustrating than cooling off after a tough workout and realizing that you’re now facing an exercise-induced headache. Or, maybe you’ve been sidelined from your usual workouts because you can’t bear to work out with a headache that’s been pestering you for days. Either way, you might be able to implement a simple, non-invasive treatment option for exercise headaches, right from the comfort of your own home.
Pressure points are natural spots throughout your body believed to help support healthy circulation to a specific area. Several of these pressure points are said to be particularly effective for relieving headache pain, including discomfort caused by a migraine after working out. For generations, pressure points have been utilized in natural treatments in both Western and Eastern medicine, and they may help you fight back against your headaches.
Try using these pressure points for relief at home:
Facial Pressure Points
There are several pressure points in the face, many of which can be related to:
- Sinus pressure and headaches
- Tooth pain
- Cluster headaches
- Tension headaches
Because of the potential connection between facial pressure points and many types of headaches, you may discover that treating these areas can produce relief.
First, gently place each of your index fingers near your nostrils. Then, apply pressure and trace a path under your cheekbones. This pressure point, called the facial beauty point, can loosen congestion and decrease sinus pressure. Massage this area gently or maintain pressure as needed.
The next facial pressure point is called the bright lights facial pressure point. When you consider the name, it makes perfect sense that this spot may relieve the pain caused by bright lights of extended screen time. Use your fingers to press firmly on the brow bone, specifically the portion of the bone located of the inner corner of each of your eyes. Then, either maintain steady pressure or alternate applying pressure from side to side.
Your third facial pressure point is the third eye pressure point and is one of the most widely known. Tucked in the middle junction of your face, directly between your nose and eyebrows, this point is believed to be related to migraines and sinus congestion. Applying the appropriate pressure can also potentially encourage melatonin production, which has additional benefits.
For headaches that may be stress-related, the gates of consciousness pressure point may come in handy. Manipulating this specific pressure point can help reduce stress and tension, releasing you from headache pain. Using both of your hands, cradle your hair while pointing your thumbs downward. Then, massage the base of your skull on either side, using circular motions to relieve tension.
The last pressure point often attributed to headache relief is the wind mansion pressure point, which you’ll find tucked into the hollow at the base of your skull. Pointing your thumb down, gently hold the back of your head. Then, press your thumb gently into the pressure point, cutting down on tension and even increasing feelings of calmness.
What to Do if Your Exercise-Induced Headaches Persist
If altering your exercise habits and using pressure point therapy doesn’t seem to improve your condition, it may be time to seek professional care. Getting a migraine after you work out could be caused by a myriad of factors, and it’s important that you take the proper steps for diagnosis and care. As mentioned, taking part in a work out with a headache is typically not dangerous – however, in some cases, the headache could be a sign of a serious health condition, one that could be worsened with physical therapy.
For your health and safety, consider scheduling an appointment with our team of headache specialists in Miami. Together, we can determine why you’re getting headaches when working out, how we can help resolve your pain, and what treatment can set you free from pain in the long term.
MIAMI HEADACHE INSTITUTE
Miami Headache Institute invites you to participate in this year’s Miami Sports and Wellness Month. For expert diagnosis and professional help that could cure your headaches for good, visit us or set an appointment on Zocdoc.