Health Made Simple

Post-Workout Migraines? Here’s What Might Be Causing Them

Are you trying to get your fitness back on track but getting headaches along the way? These exercise-induced migraines are a major hindrance, but there are also many ways to fix them.

Picture this: it’s been quite some time since you last laced up your sneakers for a morning run. You warm up and stretch to prepare for your first lap around the neighborhood. But as you start to run and reach mid-way through your course, you suddenly feel a throbbing pain in your head.

If you’ve experienced something like this during and after your workouts, it’s safe to say it’s not as unusual as it looks.

Though it can be frustrating to run into these problems when you only want to create healthier habits, it’s comforting to know that it’s a hurdle that other people have also passed.

Luckily, there are certain remedies you can follow to push through. But before you solve your headaches, you need to narrow down just what might be causing them.

Exercise-induced migraines may occur more likely for people more susceptible to headaches. However, they’re also not caused by exercise alone. There are contributing factors that might be making them worse. And by identifying what these are, you can minimize the stress you experience after your workouts.

So, why are you getting headaches?

Many factors can lead to a throbbing migraine. Your age and family history can each play a role in why you’re more likely to have them. Studies have found that migraines most commonly occur in people aged 25 to 55 years old, but they can also come at any age. On the other hand, you may also want to ask your other family members if they’re also prone to migraine attacks. It may just be that this is a genetic trait that you all share.

But if you notice that your headaches come at a certain time of the day, specifically after your workouts, then the factors surrounding your workout session may be worth a look. Here are some possible reasons that may stir up your migraines.

You might be over-exerting yourself

If it’s been long since you last had a good sweat session and you push your body to intense limits, your body might cramp and your head might ache. Trying to do a high-intensity workout after being sedentary for too long can have unpleasant effects.

What you can do:

Though it’s tempting to do and achieve more in a short amount of time, you must prioritize your body’s strength and stamina. Take your time to slowly build your fitness level so you can avoid putting yourself in mental and physical distress.

Bad form during exercise

Is it your first time doing a specific workout routine? It’s especially crucial to be in good form while doing exercises. Otherwise, you may cause some unwanted consequences to other parts of your body. Physical activities such as push-ups, weight lifting, and crunches can put unnecessary strain on your neck if you’re not doing them properly and may cause headaches.

What you can do:

If you’re doing home exercises and simply following an online video, you may want to put a mirror near you so you can check your form. But even then, you may find it difficult to determine if you’re correctly executing the routine. Sometimes for advanced exercises, it takes a trained eye like a coach or personal trainer to help you correctly perform the workout. Try visiting your local gym for a one-on-one session with a trainer.

You might be dehydrated

Most times, your post-workout headache may be a symptom of another condition. In this case, it may be that your migraine is caused by dehydration. Sweating naturally comes with exercise and is your body’s way to help you cool down However, perspiration also means fluid loss. When you become dehydrated, this causes your cells and brain to shrink, putting pressure on your nerves and therefore causing pain.

What you can do:

Your priority during these times is replenishing your body's fluids and electrolytes. Drinking water is one of the easiest ways to prevent and alleviate headaches. But don't be too reliant on sugar-laced sports drinks, either. These can also make your migraine worse. If you'd still like something sweet, you may opt for simple and refreshing coconut water that you can enjoy that won't lead to a sugar crash.

The weather’s too hot

Even without exercise, the extreme summer heat can already make one feel lightheaded. And so, when you especially prefer physical activity like hiking, you may want to check the weather forecast beforehand to see how the temperatures are for the day.

What you can do:

Instead of high or mid-afternoon, you may consider switching your workout time to early morning when it’s cooler. During your walks and hiking trips, wearing sunglasses and a hat will also help shield you from the sun’s harsh rays. For extra caution, you may also carry a cold spray bottle to mist your face now and then for a quick cool down.

Your blood sugar gets too low

Another term for low blood sugar is hypoglycemia, which happens when your body’s sugar and primary energy source, glucose, drops too low. Like dehydration, your body can also use up too much of your energy reserve with physical activity. So the next time you feel you don’t have enough time to eat before working out, pause for a second. As important as getting your daily exercise, fueling up with the right food should also be part of the equation.

What you can do:

You can prevent low blood sugar by eating complex carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. If you like your desserts, you may want to reserve them as your post-workout reward. Food made with refined sugar, like cakes, provides carbohydrates but may also cause rebound hypoglycemia, where your sugar levels spike and immediately crash. Instead, as pre-workout fuel, you can turn to whole-grain food choices like toast, cereals, and pasta. Low-fat yogurt with fruit slices is also a great choice.

The area’s at a high altitude

Experiencing post-workout headaches while on vacation? One factor may be the area’s higher altitude. If you’re working out in elevated mountain areas, thinner oxygen levels in the air may be uncomfortable to those not acclimated in the area.

What you can do:

Give your body time to get used to the new environment. And in the meantime, you may do low-impact exercises that are less taxing on your breathing capacity. Strengthening exercises like pilates and yoga would be acceptable alternatives for your muscles while also giving them a break.

Next steps and more ways for relief

Physical exercises use various muscles in your head and neck that require more blood to circulate for oxygen distribution. And during this process, it may cause some blood vessels to dilate, leading to exertion headaches. You may follow the previous tips we’ve shared to find a remedy to keep your headaches at bay. But if you’re looking for additional relief, taking Ibuprofen can also do a fine job of easing your migraines.


Medicol Advance 400

Looking for immediate relief? For different types of pain like migraines, headaches, and nerve pain, you can trust Medicol®. Sweet relief can come in as swift as 5 to 15 minutes.

Advil Liquid Gel

For faster and stronger pain relief than paracetamol, Advil’s soft gel capsules come packed with Ibuprofen which not only cools fever down but also relieves mild to moderate pain and inflammation.

Take extra measures today to ensure your exercise sessions remain free of unexpected headaches. But if these still occur and appear frequently, please don’t hesitate to book a doctor appointment for a proper check-up. Here’s a reminder that creating healthier habits should build your peace of mind and not the opposite. — (MyPharma)

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