T Nation

Excruciating Pressure

I just started getting really painful headaches in the gym. I hit some breathing squats 2 days ago and when I racked the weight I got a blinding headache that made me want to lay down. I ignored it. I followed this with some heavy deads and after every set I felt a huge amount of pressure at the base of my skull, like the tissue was contracting so hard it would tear. I started getting a much milder sensation when I bent over. I ignored it again.

I get the same sensation during heavy bench today. The fascia at the base of the back of my skull contracted and I wasn’t far from blacking out. Anyone have any experience with something like this?

All I can think of is I am hitting a 200mg tab of caffeine before workouts without any aspirin so maybe it’s a blood flow restriction.

I used to get these often, and still do but less frequently. After I get a major one in the gym, every little amount of exertion is painful for the next week or so (even doing to the washroom).

I started to look for correlations and found it only occurs on movements in the gym where I am trying to keep a neutral back (deads and squats, like you) and I was cranking my neck upwards, looking at the ceiling.

I think it may be a bloodflow issue and since I correctly my lifting techniques, it occurs a lot less often. Still keep a netural back but don’t crank your neck up so much.

Also, I know a few of the guys here have said chiros help for this problem, and I started going to one after my last incident. The pain subsided, and it went away quicker than normal, but this could be due to a number of factors such as the incidnet wasnt as severe as normal.

What is your blood pressure?

[quote]orion wrote:
What is your blood pressure?[/quote]

Normal. Never had any bad readings when I have gotten it taken. Even though someone like me at 21 could theoretically have high blood pressure, I doubt this is the cause.

[quote]Make1tRa1n wrote:
orion wrote:
What is your blood pressure?

Normal. Never had any bad readings when I have gotten it taken. Even though someone like me at 21 could theoretically have high blood pressure, I doubt this is the cause.
[/quote]
How much weight are you lifting? What is the percentage of the intensity? It sound like to me that your scapular position is anteriorly rotated and depressed, and your upper trapezius is contracted so much that you are pinching a nerve – probably that interfere with oxigen transport to the brain. Keep your head in neutral position, and maybe make sure what you are lifting is done with appropriate amount of strain.

Try getting a neck massage. I used to get really bad headaches while benching and squatting from tight neck muscles restricting blood flow. Trainers at school rubbed out my neck muscles and applied a hot pack and I was fine after that. Every once and a while I will massage my neck if I feel it getting tight again.

The weight was submaximal and intensity was to near failure. I doubt that my scapula hit a funny angle on 3 different lifts but it’s possible.

After reading up on what I experienced I came across ‘weightlifter’s headache’ which is an exertion headache brought on by cranial pressure caused by a combination of poor breathing, lots of caffeine, and lots of exertion. I may have broken a blood vessel in the process. Either way, it was painful and it comes around easier now. Anyone have any experience with this or know how long it takes for this shit to subside?