We all work to remain fit and active, but what happens when a headache gets in the way of your routine? If you are in the middle of an intense workout and you suddenly experience a pounding headache, do you push through and endure the pain? Some might push through it, while others might throw in the towel. But what is causing this?

Headaches that occur during exercise can be referred to as exertion headaches, which is a type of head pain triggered by exercise. This type of headache is not as well known as a migraine or stress headache, but they can be just as painful. Sometimes, these headaches can even last up to 48 hours! Yikes!

If you experience an exertion headache during your workout, here’s what you can do to help ease the pain:

Take a break, cool down

When you develop an exertion headache, your body is telling you it’s being overexerted and needs a break. If the headache goes away after you take a break, you can slowly get back into your workout, but be careful. Warming up before your workout gradually increases your heart rate and gets your blood flowing to prepare for activity and can often ward off exertion headaches.

Know your triggers

Working too hard is often the main cause of exertion headaches, but, like migraines, they also have triggers. You might develop this type of headache if you are dehydrated, sleep deprived, have blood pressure issues or based on your food and drink choices. Staying well-hydrated, eating regularly and getting enough sleep can make all the difference.

Correct your form

Sometimes it might all be in the way that you move. Exertion headaches can be brought on by small mistakes in your workout form. It might be how you are lifting weights or even sitting with your head too far forward or an arched back. Understanding correct form is key.  

If you are experiencing a headache, it is important to visit your doctor or dentist. Dr. Mayoor Patel is available to help find a solution to your headache or craniofacial pain. And, if needed, he will refer you to a physician or neurologist as needed.