T Nation

Really Bad Migraine While Benching

Yesterday while I was benching I was overcome with a huge throbbing migraine in the left side of my head from behind my eye to the back of my skull. The migraine would last about 2-3 minutes and then descend to a dull throbbing. Any exercise I did after that would bring the migraine back to full strength. I went to the gym again today and the same thing happened. Anyone have any idea whats wrong with me?

The day before the migraines first started I worked out my upper and lower back pretty hard and my friend said I should probably let my back heal but I don’t know, could a sore back cause migraines?

Are you breathing properly? If I’m trying to push too hard and forget to breath correctly I will get a headache. Not a migraine but a headache none the less.

I know exactly what you’re talking about. Its called an exertional headache and I’m getting over them as we speak. I can’t tell you how much it pissed me off. I took a week off of lifting to relax and it didn’t cure it.

I got it either squatting or doing cleans.

First. Don’t hold your breath when you lift. I think its called valsalva and its pushing against a closed glottus, think taking a large shit. It raises blood pressure or something and it is not good for you. Just don’t do it anymore. Learn how to breath when you lift.

Second. I ended up diagnosing mine as a strained trap on my left side. It was just unusually tight and I think pulling on my skull, and I ended up with a throbbing headache on the left side of the back of my head about ear level. BOOM-BOOM-BOOM it felt like and it ended my workouts.

This stretch helped me immensely:
exrx.net/Stretches/TrapeziusUpper/Trap.html

I also did neck rolls, forward and back neck stretches, and whatever else I could to make sure my neck was loose, mobile, and warm before trying to lift anything near my max effort [edit: this also had to do with my breathing when I was lifting things about as heavy as I could handle so learning to breathe is a big thing too]

Third. Two ibuprofen pretty much cured it for me. It came back when I was jumping rope about a week ago, and I popped two of those guys out of desperation and the headaches went away. I took two again today before I lifted and experienced no headache. I worked out on Monday though without them, and got through it. So it was more stretching than anthing. Tuesday, they came back a little and I took some ibuprofen and they went away.

Four. I think ice works better than heat, although neither of them really worked for me.

…That’s about it. I got over them in about a week. It might take you longer or shorter, but the stretches and ibuprofen helped me the most. There was a couple of posts about them, one was a 20-rep squat induced headache and here was another one I forget the name of. It can also be a sign of a bigger medical problem, so you might want to visit a doctor. I never did, but again I might wake up tomorrow dead from an aneurysm.

I had the same problem a few times about a year ago. Ibuprofen helped for the after effects, but they would come back.

Under doctors advice, I took a couple of Midrin (migraine medication)before lifting. I did that for a few weeks and they went away and have not returned since.

There is a lot of information on the web about exertional headaches. It may help to Google it and learn more.

I’ve gotten these as well; they were triggered by sprinting miles (times less than 5:30) and really heavy squats where I didn’t focus on breathing.

Also, if you’re taking any supplements that increase your blood pressure, get off them.

I had these a bit for a few weeks a little while ago. There are a few old threads on stuff like this… called exercise induced headaches and all sorts of other things.

Anyway I second the trap stretches. I don’t know if they were responsible for the headaches going away but I did them in between sets and pre and post workout for a bit and it went away (also coupled with a few days out of the gym).

I’ll echo that breathing - I’ve had it before and you need to put more focus into your breathing.

If you passed out while benching, without a spotter, that would be deadly.

Hey I just wanted to update this thread for those of you who said you experienced migraines like I did. I went to the doctor and they told me to get an MRI and basically I have a normal brain (no aneurysm). I did some research and I realized the problem is my uneven shoulders. My left side is sloped slightly lower than my right causing chronic muscle tension in my left traps as a result of barbell workouts. Since there are a lot of nerves traveling under this muscle, I develop migraines whenever this area gets strained.

My doctor prescribed anti-inflammatory medicines for before going to the gym but learning how to stretch my shoulders and traps (such as that link posted earlier) are really helping. Just wanted to let you guys know.