Headaches While Lifting

I was not really sure where to post this, but I suppose here is as good of a place as any. About 3 weeks ago or so, in my third set of squats I got a crazy insane headache. I don�??t get headaches; never had a problem and I have been lifting for about a year and a half or so. This was close to the end of my workout and I managed to finish it. The next day, I got another one on the first set.

The headache went away by the end of the weekend and came back Monday during my session. This time it was on my first set, I let it subside to a dull ache and continued my workout. Its been like this for the whole time up until this week.

Monday I tried to lift, got a headache and just could not deal with it, I had had enough. Tried again Tuesday and it started to come on, focused my breathing and lifted slower and kept it from getting too out of hand. Tried to lift last night, and it started to come on crazy bad, so I threw in the towel and went inside, before it got to where I can�??t function. After three weeks I just cant handle the crazy pain anymore.

Somewhere in week 2 I thought maybe it was tension and stuff in my neck and traps, so I tried to stretch them out and warm up well before I lifted. I don�??t know if this is a coincidence or what, but the next day, horrific stiff neck. It started to get better but now it�??s a dull ache for about a week.

The headaches seem to be less severe but coming on easier. Last night I started to get one while warming up. I tried increasing my warm ups and I thought that was helping until I started to get it warming up.

I stay hydrated, I am not concentrating on breathing, although I am not sure if that was ever a problem before, and trying to warm up better/more.

Is this a matter of needing to take time off from lifting to let it heal? I have searched and searched but most of the things and forums I have read range from sinus infection, over exertion, breathing, hydration and things like that but I have not really managed to find anything on what people actually did to solve the problem.

I have never really had any medical problems before, nor have I had allergies although this year something was going on as my eyes have been red and itchy, so I wonder if I am starting to get an allergy to something and maybe this is a cause or something? I feel normal so I don�??t know.

My options as I see it at this point, aside from the obvious are:
Get a message and hope if I cure the tightness in my neck the other symptoms will follow
Go see a chiropractor
Go see a family dr.
Go see a specialty dr.

First I am going to take the rest of this week off, and perhaps all of next week and see where I get from there and re-asses the situation.

Money is limited for the doc visits and whatnot, (for those of you wondering, no I did not buy supplements, I ran out of money before that after I took care of my important things) so I guess I need to make the right decision first.

Nothing really has changed in this time as far as diet and workouts. About 2 weeks or so before this I had about 3 weeks off between the hurricane and my wife leaving. In that time I changed from Starting Strength to a 4 day split. Supplements are only glucosamine, fish oil and creatine. I am on the AD diet but even that has not changed in I don�??t know how long.

Also, since this is the first �??injury�?? time off I have had while bulking, what do I do with my diet? Keep it on excess, return to maintenance levels or what?

So I am just curious opinions, or if someone has traveled this road and found a cure, and such.

where does the pain originate (physical location on your noggin)? and where does it spread?

If it starts low on the base of your skull, or in your neck and creeps up, it is possibly caused by muscular tension/nerve impingement. I can’t really recommend a course of action, but in my experience chiropractic works very well, whereas general practitioners like to give you anti-inflammatories of increasing strength.

good luck man.

I knew I forgot something in there…

When it first started, it seemed to start at the base of the skull and linger there. Although I may not have paid too much attention to it, or it was severe enough for me not to notice.

This week, I have noticed that one day it seemed to start at the base and work around to the left side although not as easily to distinguish as it was yesterday, where it kind of started behind my right ear and stayed more on the right side of my head.

I am considering staying away from a general doc. simply because I don’t want to hear, quit lifting, take these pills and quit lifting.

I had heard negative things of chiropractic treatments simply that once you go to one, you are going to have to continue going. I have no real basis on this as its an opinion from one person, although my ex mother in law maintains appointments with hers. I wont be able to afford that long term assuming my insurance covers it which I don’t know.

I also don’t know how much it would cost, but I was thinking if a message is cheaper would it be worth throwing the money down to try that as a first course of action.

I just carried about 30 pounds of envelopes and I could feel the pressure building in my noodle, so I guess I really need to do something about this.

I only skimmed through your post because I immediately had some initial ideas. I myself suffer from migraines. 90% of the time, I get them after an intense session at the gym. Besides the obvious contributors of being dehydrated, stressed out, not getting enough sleep etc, that which I’ve found to be the most beneficial is when I get home from the gym I immediately take at least 5 grams of fish oil which seems to drop my blood pressure and alleviate the head ache.

Yes, I realize that fish oil is going to slow the digestion and transport of my post workout protein shake, however, for anyone suffering from bad headaches or migraines, the trade off is worth it. If you are getting them at the gym before you come home, I would suggest taking them with your pre-workout shake, again, I realize this is going to slow down the protein absorbtion, but it’s worth it if these headaches are stopping his lifting altogether. Give it a shot.

If this doesn’t solve the problem, then perhaps you should be paying close attention to be sure you are breathing properly during your sets. My fiance’s father is a chiropractor, and my Mom is a massage therapist which helps but doesn’t solve the problem for me.

Well, my concerns are they its as soon as exertion starts. That and headaches are something I never ever have a problem with. I just simply don’t get them. If I do, its on the weekend when I forgot or poorly planned out my water intake.

I might try moving my fish oil intake to pre-workout. I guess its worth a shot, at least its one idea I have not seen and one I have not thought about or tried.

Go to a regular doctor first to rule out any serious health issues. And on that note here’s my story with headaches just in case some of this relates to what you’re going through.

I had this time problem with headaches a couple years ago. The headaches started in my forehead and flowed like liquid to the back and down my neck. One day I immediately stopped my workout and headed straight to the ER where they did a CAT scan and spinal tap. No issues like meningitis were found.

The docs in the ER told me I’d probably have to live with it, which is obviously a load of crap. I went to a chiropractor who felt my neck and pretty much shit himself because of the line of knots that ran down the entire right side of my neck and into my thoracic spine. Here’s what I wound up doing:

-Had several visits with the chiro who did chiro things (crack back, eletric stim, etc)
-Couple deep tissue massages
-Stopped, or made a big effort to stop, sleeping on my stomach with my head turned the same way every night. I’m 99% sure this was the root cause the whole time.

  • Be conscious of neck/head position while lifting

It’s been over two years since I’ve had a headache while lifting.

[quote]Doug Adams wrote:
Go to a regular doctor first to rule out any serious health issues. And on that note here’s my story with headaches just in case some of this relates to what you’re going through.

I had this time problem with headaches a couple years ago. The headaches started in my forehead and flowed like liquid to the back and down my neck. One day I immediately stopped my workout and headed straight to the ER where they did a CAT scan and spinal tap. No issues like meningitis were found.

The docs in the ER told me I’d probably have to live with it, which is obviously a load of crap. I went to a chiropractor who felt my neck and pretty much shit himself because of the line of knots that ran down the entire right side of my neck and into my thoracic spine. Here’s what I wound up doing:

-Had several visits with the chiro who did chiro things (crack back, eletric stim, etc)
-Couple deep tissue massages
-Stopped, or made a big effort to stop, sleeping on my stomach with my head turned the same way every night. I’m 99% sure this was the root cause the whole time.

  • Be conscious of neck/head position while lifting

It’s been over two years since I’ve had a headache while lifting.[/quote]

I think I can say I am fairly positive that head/neck position is what got me into this situation, especially since it came about on that last few reps of squats where I was really working to get the weight up. I live alone and the garage is the last place I want to be trapped until…well no one comes over so they would probably just find a skeleton in the garage when they come to foreclose on the house.

I am thinking a chiro and message are what I need to do but which to do first, and really again, goes back to cost. Does insurance cover any of that?

My chiropractor was covered for 20 visits per year, massages aren’t. Check your benefits because they vary a lot.

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I suppose I should have read better eh? You should definately be seeing a chiropractor and a massage therapist if the origins of your headaches are coming from your neck via your trapezius (which does run up to the botton of your skull) or if it’s skeletal and your vertebrae are out of alignment, definately go get adjusted and worked on once a week.

You’ll have to look into your insurance company with regards to what they will cover. I know that with mine, it will cover a certain number of visits per year, which might be all you need to get it back in check and then as maintenance from that point forward.

If doing all that doesn’t alleviate the problem entirely, definately time to go see a physician.

[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:
Sit down and bear down against a closed glottis - try and ‘force a dump’ basically, but don’t actually crap yourself.

This will raise your BP significantly for a short period of time. Your face will go red, and your jugular veins will pop out. Don’t hold your breath for so long that you pass out, ok :wink: 20 seconds should do it. You will need longer, depending on the amount of force you exert.

If the headache comes on, then this would indicate a vascular origin - possibly. It could also be that you create tension in your neck, trying to fight the intrathoracic pressure from this exercise (called a ‘valsalva manouver’ BTW). So, try to stay relaxed if possible as you do the test.

BBB[/quote]

Well in my best attempts at this ( I work front counter parts sales, so I have to try and not always look like I am crapping myself in case a customer comes in) seems as though if I really concentrate on not letting my neck tense up I don’t really have a problem.

If I let my neck tense up as I would normally, and have my entire life/lifting career if you will, I can feel like the headache is coming on, and I in turn stop. Ill try again tonight or at least in the car, but I am pretty sure this is the case.

Does that mean some rest and perhaps a trip to the chiro is in store?

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the only time i’ve ever gotten headaches while lifting were when i’d gone too long after a meal, and ended up training on a totally empty stomach.

i’m not sure if that’s related at all to your problem, but what works for me is taking half a protein shake 15-20 minutes before training if i haven’t eaten in a while.

This happened to me once. About 2 or 3 exercises in to my workout I would get a horrible headache and couldn’t countinue lifting. I took a week and a half off and when I came back it stopped happening.

[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:
johnward82 wrote:
bushidobadboy wrote:

Good, I’m very glad that it appears no not be vascular in origin, but do try the test again, maybe leaning slightly back with head supported in an armchair.

A trip to the chiro should certainly begin to resolve things. You may want to invest a few $ in a wheatbag, that you put in the microwave to heat and then use to warm the affected tissues in your neck and shoulders.

This should keep the muscles pliable and the neck movement reasonably free so that you can stretch them (if appropriate - most people though, have some degree of neck hypertonicity).

Heating the area (as long as it’s not inflamed) will speed up the healing process a little, too. You might use this as a warm up for future lifting that aggravates your condition.

BBB[/quote]
Ill try it again tonight. Im going to take the rest of this week off, and next week. Hopefully my neck will be feeling better by next month and I can get back at it.

I will try and use heat from not on on my neck more, as I seem to get a stiff neck every couple months. I never really notice other people I know when a stiff neck, but I have always gotten them.

I have to figure out how to find a chiro. I don’t know how to go about that. I tried to search for them via my insurance website, but the closest thing I saw was an orthopedic surgeon. Is that the same?

Anyway, thanks for your help, and ill get back when I figure out what alien is living inside me.

Maybe there will finally be a thread somewhere to help someone, which I could never find thus far.

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Google “weightlifters headache”. I’ve had these happen a handful of times and the pain at the base of my skull is so intense, I feel like i’m gonna pass out. I noticed they always happened when two things coincided:

  1. For me, heavy incline bench presses (arching my back and holding my breath on the concentric part of the rep.

  2. When i’ve had a big cup of coffee before working out.

Now I ease up on the coffee, maybe take an advil before working out, and DO NOT hold my breath like I used to. Works for me.

My .02 cents.

I just noticed that was my 100th post.
I’m going to Disneyland.

[quote]poophead wrote:
Google “weightlifters headache”. I’ve had these happen a handful of times and the pain at the base of my skull is so intense, I feel like i’m gonna pass out. I noticed they always happened when two things coincided:

  1. For me, heavy incline bench presses (arching my back and holding my breath on the concentric part of the rep.

  2. When i’ve had a big cup of coffee before working out.

Now I ease up on the coffee, maybe take an advil before working out, and DO NOT hold my breath like I used to. Works for me.

My .02 cents.[/quote]

I have googled this ALOT. More than what I usually would, because I didn’t want to start a thread on this unless I really had no other option. By no other option I mean, get opinions on which medical person to see, as money is tight and insurance goes away in a month or 2.

BBB:
I understand its complex, but I think I eluded to it earlier, most of the threads I found were people with the usual suggestions, breath, drink water, get an MRI, things like that.

I had not really come across anyone that went to a Chiro and had the problem fixed in my searches and most of the forums I found that talked about it the OP never returned for a follow up on what HIS individual problem was. Not really looking for a diag. over the internet, just maybe some decent opinions on where to start, which is what I think this great community has given me.

On that note, I lift at home and I don’t have a large friend network, so getting a referral through word of mouth is proving difficult. I was slightly hoping that someone lives in my area on here and could offer a suggestion.

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