T Nation

Exertional Headaches

Two Fridays ago I was doing a set of high rep hack squats and suddenly felt a huge pulsating pain in the back of my head. I was able to finish the set and workout, and figured a little rest and sleep would take care of the ailment.

Two days later, I tried doing some sprints and the same throbbing pain came back as soon as I started sprinting. I took another day off, and tried going to the gym again.

I did a set of dips no problem, but after my third chin up my head started throbbing like you wouldn’t believe. I had to leave the gym because there was no way I was going to finish my work-out in that sort of pain. I tried taking some painkillers to no avail, and had to wait as the pain slowly subsided after 24 hours.

At this point, I did a little research on T-Nation and the 'net and found I was probably suffering from benign exertional headaches. After reading some of the preventive and curative measures listed on various sites, I decided to take a week off from any intense physical activity and then try hitting the gym again.

Yesterday was my first day back. I read that most individuals who take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin or ibuprofen prior to their planned physical activity were able to prevent the headaches from occuring.

So, I took two ibuprofen upon rising and one 30 minutes prior to hitting the gym about four hours later. Fortunately, no headaches. Today, I took one ibuprofen and went running about an hour later. Again, no headaches. It looks like I’ve at least temporarily conquered this annoyance.

Anyways, I’m writing asking for other’s experiences with these sort of headaches, specifically what measures they took to recover from them and what they did to prevent them. I read an earlier thread on this topic, but it really only described experiences and had little to do with what they actually did to relieve then and prevent further occurences.

Honestly, I’d really rather not have to take painkillers prior to every workout as I’ve heard they interfere with protein synthesis.

Thoughts, comments, and especially experiences would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Similar thing happened to me a few months ago, but it was only from heavy workouts, specifically max effort days. Went to the doc, and my blood pressure was up from using caffeine before max effort days.

Stopped using so much caffeine, and the headaches went away. Just had my blood pressure done too and it’s back to normal.

I’ve had them. Most recently, it was about 3 weeks ago. I was doing dead lifts and had finished my 3rd set of 5. I actually thought that a bar had fallen on my head. It was very sharp, very intense. It started to ease, but I still had a headache the whole next day.

I thought I was having a stroke.

I had them for about a month, from when they started to when they totally went away. I just kept taking the NSAIDs and eased back into the excercise. Drinking lots of water helped, and so did rotating my head when I got them to a position where it hurt less. It always seemed that if I looked up, the pain would go away. Just a thought.

i had this once, i would definetly stop lifting for a couple of weeks. my uncle is a doctor and he recommended an MRI. ask your doctor because this could be serious, even though it isn’t that likely

Try stretching your traps/other neck muscles, it got rid of them for me.

I’ve dealt with these in the past - not fun at all. I commented a while back on a different thread; the search engine should turn something up if you search for “exertional headaches.”

Good luck.