T Nation

Exertion Headaches

I realize that many posts about exertion headaches have been made.

However, mine is different. It originates in the frontal lobe of my brain, not in the back. It comes on whenever my heartrate goes up.

Walking, lifting, sexual climaxes all set it off. Climaxes are actually the most painful.

Any tips/ideas/knowledge would be greatly appreciated towards helping me through this.

P.S. Obviously I could take some time off, but as I’m in the heat of a consulting session, Id rather tough it out if it’s nothing serious.


There is actually some evidence that the valsalva manoeuvre can help by reducing the stress faced by the blood vessel walls and lower cerebrovascular transmural pressure, which could lower exertion headaches. If you or anyone doesn’t know, the valsalva manoeuvre is where you close your epiglottis and exert a pressure against it when you lift (commonly heard as grunting, though you don’t actually have to grunt).

Its a natural reaction when lifting very heavy or close to failure. One of my lecturers said he suffered chronic exertion headaches, and valsalva manoeuvres helped to a degree. He also relied on other techniques that would lower the blood pressure response.

There are a few but they tend to compromise gains in the gym, but carefully managed, you should be fine to continue using some of the following techniques: avoiding failure (but you could try to accelerate the weight as much as possible to maximise MU recruitment, which takes a hit when using sub failure), avoiding high reps (yes, its actually better to use heavier weight and train in the 1-5 rep range), use more unilateral exercises, you could used eccentrically biased methods (e.g. lift with two arms, lower with one.

Obviously does not work with all exercises) and stopping between reps helps (so like rest pause but not hitting failure, kind of like clusters I guess). Some people are just predispositioned to it, but these techniques can help, may be worth a shot. TIme off would’t hurt though, good luck!

I hate to take 2 weeks off lifting in order it to go away. The worse would be while cumming it seemed like my head would crack from the pain.

I got it once when deadlifting like a madman for reps.

Try pinching the skin between the thumb and index finger. It should be on a pain scale of 9/10. Slowly apply more pressure while making small cirlces. Sould relieve it

Also, look into trigger points along the traps and neck muscles