T Nation

Head Feels Like Exploding During Squats

yesterday I was squatting 290 for 3 and on the 3rd rep I was grinding it out and gritting my teeth then next thing I know…I felt an intense pain in my head that quickly subdued but after the rep was done…there was a throbbing in the back of my head.

what the heck was that? Has anyone experience this feeling of “explosion” through their skull during a squat?

It eventually went away but I’m just wondering.

If it felt like a lightning strike up the back of your head and left the area numb and tingly then it was probably a pinched or pulled nerve. I would try stretching the area before squats and be sure your bar placement is across your traps and not too high on the neck.

are you baeing sure to breathe throughout the excercise and not holding your breath due to strain, i know i can tend to due this while pushing heavy weight and it makes my head hurt as well

Yup, people have experienced weird shit while lifting, especially when squatting; Brent Mikesell shattered teeth from clenching so hard!


Just had this happen to me a couple weeks ago. And i’ve experienced these in the past a couple of times. I’ll throw out some info i’ve come across:

-aka: weightlifter’s headache, benign headache, exertion headache, lightning-bolt headache.

  • Can be due to elevated BP

  • Taking a stimulant of some kind shortly before lifting.

  • Holding your breath / not focusing on breathing. THIS IS KEY !!!

  • Feels like a blood vessel is gonna blow, but i’m not exactly sure it is a blood vessel, a nerve, or muscle that has become aggravated. It throbs with every heartbeat, that’s for sure.

  • Seems most people experience them working legs (usually high reps), but not always.

  • Most (including me) strongly suggest to stop the workout (not like there’s really a choice). Do not wait for it to subside and continue. This is not being a wuss, it’s being f’ing smart.

  • More often than not, it is not a deadly health issue but it is wise to inform your doctor regardless and he/she will probably schedule you for an MRI. There is a small possibility it could be a weakended blood vessel or aneurysm.

  • I’ve read most people taking anywhere from a week to a month off from lifting for it to clear up. After one occurs, it can be aggravated very easily by anything that will increase your heartbeat, it seems. Like running, biking, sex, you name it…

  • Others will pop a few Advil before working out, go down in poundages a bit, and pay special attention to your breathing. Sucks but it’s better than blacking out, like I did.

  • Make sure to drink plenty of water. I’m not sure how or why, but many say dehydration plays a part in these damn painful experiences.

  • There is mention of taking an anti-inflammatory medication called Indocin for this specific type headache. I don’t know or have experience with this drug, so please chime in if you do.

As for my own opinion, I know it was due to my blood pressure being high. I also believe it is a blood vessel that has become temporarily “stretched” from the pressure and that taking time off to let it “snap back” into shape. I stopped drinking coffee and take a couple Advil a half-hour before working out. Worked like a charm for me.