T Nation

Major Headache After Deadlifts?


#1

This Monday I had a deadlift session where I worked up to a top set of five. The warmup went as follows: 135x5 185x3 225x1 and my top set was 255x5. After this set I felt a little light headed, but I've often felt like it before so I didn't think about it too much. I then went on and did 275x1, planning on doing a few singles with it, but as I lowered the weight, I immediately had a huge headache.

It was so bad I had to sit down for five minutes and was extremely dizzy. I still have this headache and I'm wondering what I did wrong? I've never noticed my breathing before, so should I focus more on that? I'm wondering if I could have burst a blood vessel or had an aneurysm? Any advice or info on what could have happened and tips so it won't happen again? Thanks guys.


#2

Its more than likely an exertion headache brought on by your breathing, neck positioning, or both. I've gotten them from deadlifting frequently, other people get them from squats; they're not terribly serious, but they sure can be annoying.

"Getting your belly full of air" (the Valsalva maneuver) causes a pretty substantial spike in blood pressure. This alone can be the cause of exertion headaches, but they'll usually dissipate after a few hours. Taking a breath between reps on multi-rep sets has helped me eliminate these.

Longer lasting headaches, from my experience, are more likely caused by neck positioning. If you unknowingly extend your neck during your lifts, work on "packing your neck", and keeping your chin tucked into your chest. These two tips together have completely eliminated the problem for me, hopefully it works for you.


#3

Thank you! It's funny because I never think of breathing between reps, I just do it, so I think it's more a problem with the neck positioning. I'll try and learn that better.


#4

I had this happen a few years ago. It really freaked me out so I saw my doctor and she referred me to a neurologist. He thought I should have an MRI to rule out an aneurysm. He thought I had one for sure, but it turned out to be a severe sinus infection. Once I got on antibiotics it went away. Wouldn't hurt to discuss with your doctor.


#5

I had this happen a few years ago. It really freaked me out so I saw my doctor and she referred me to a neurologist. He thought I should have an MRI to rule out an aneurysm. He thought I had one for sure, but it turned out to be a severe sinus infection. Once I got on antibiotics it went away. Wouldn't hurt to discuss with your doctor.
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I'm honestly not too worried about it right now, but my mom is and if it lasts much longer she definitely will have me go to the doctors.


#6

I get those exertion headaches when doing hard sets of 10+ squats. Feels like someone is stabbing me in the back of my neck but I love them. I'm all like "damn, that shit was TOUGH".


#7

Yeah it may seem cool at the moment but when I still have a headache almost a week later it's not fun it's a pain in the ass. Haha


#8

Has anyone seen any studies/have any knowledge on long term effects of getting exertion headaches frequently?


#9

If the headache lasts only for awhile after your set, it is from your breathing. It happens to me sometimes after ab work. If it is like you say and it's a week long headache, then you need to go to a doctor


#10

It's almost certainly a tension/exertion headache. Take a couple advil/ibuprofen before you lift for the next couple weeks, it will thin the blood so you hopefully don't further stress the blood vessels in your head and neck (what you're feeling is the pain after those vessels have been stretched too much by the increased blood pressure).

Should be fine after a couple weeks. I was having this same issue a couple years back (getting it during workouts, and if I did get one I'd usually get a couple more just sitting at work that week). No more tension headaches after I started taking the advil, and after a few weeks I stopped taking the advil before I lifted and the issue never resurfaced.


#11

thanks guys!


#12

I get this to some extent if I don't exhale my breath at some point in the concentric. So what I do is right after my sticking point in a lift I exhale.


#13

Do not take ibuprofen prior to lifting. There ar many reasons not to do that. First of all, that is not addressing root of problem. It's only masking symptoms. Secondly, Ibuprofen decreases blood flow to your kidneys. If you are less hydrated from extraneous activity trust me you don't want to decrease perfusion of kidney even further and cause repeated episodes of minor kidney damage. This is a well documented effect of ibuprofen.

You need to breathe properly during lifting. Breath during each rep and don't hold your breath for too long. Holding your breath increase intrathoracic pressure which could result in rupturing one of your larger airways or increased blood pressure/headache. If you had a cerebral aneurysm you already be dead as there is not a lot of space for brain bleed to go. With aneurysms you usually only have 1-2 very very severe headaches and then your dead. If you start having headaches not associated with lifting I would go see a doctor.


#14

I'm not trying to say anything negative about you here, please don't take it that way, but how is your GPP? What is your resting blood pressure/HR? I used to get that when I was younger from bench pressing - sometimes my head would hurt so bad tears would come to my eyes for a minute or so afterwards. After I got more cardiovascularly fit, it went away. Just a thought.


#15

I get these randomly every 6 months or so on the big 3 lifts. It will happen for a session or two on every heavy set and then I won't experience it again for months.


#16

I experienced this headache almost 2 years back while my ghetto Squat......
simple solution is you need to load full of water while training, breath properly and Cut down the weight for 2-3 week.

Regards
vishva