Is it a Headache or a Migraine?
'Why Do I Get Headaches When I Work Out?'
The question:"I always get headaches when I exercise—but I drink a lot of water when I'm working out, I promise! What could it be, and is there anything I can do about it?"
The expert:American Council on Exercise(ACE)-certified trainer Larysa DiDio; founder of PFX Fitness in Pleasantville, NY
The answer:"Typically, regular exercise lessens head pain thanks to a release of endorphins, extra blood flow to the brain and the relaxing out of muscle tension," says DiDio. So if you are experiencing headaches, there's something else at work. According to DiDio, the pain likely stems from one of four sources: dehydration; dips in blood sugar; tight muscles in your chest, neck and shoulders; or high blood pressure.
Even if you are getting enough waterduringexercise, make sure you're drinking H2O before you hit the gym, too. "Eight to 10 glasses of water daily, and optimally one glass a half hour before you exercise," says DiDio, noting that you should also make sure to eat. Exercising on an empty stomach will cause your blood sugar to drop and your head pain to increase. "Have a balanced snack with a little protein, fat and carbs—like peanut butter on a whole-grain rice cake—about an hour before you exercise," she says.
If you're headache-prone, it's also essential to prep your muscles for a workout before you hit the ground runningandthroughout the day—especially if you tend to sit at a desk a lot. "Texting, being slumped over a computer, emailing—these can wreak havoc on your posture, which puts pressure on neck muscles," says DiDio, which can cause additional head strain.
MORE:Heal Your Headache with Yoga
To relax key muscle groups, she suggests two simple stretches throughout the day. First, loosen up your chest by doing a doorway stretch: Simply place your forearms in a doorframe, leading with your chest as you lean your body through the doorway. To stretch neck and shoulder muscles, try a chair stretch: grab and hold underneath the chair with the left hand, while gently pulling your head to the right with your right hand until you feel a good stretch, and then switch hands to get the other side.
MORE:4 Steps to Curing a Headache
If you're still experiencing pain, DiDio says this might have to do with your blood pressure, as sharp spikes can contribute to headaches. "Be sure you warm up properly and ease your body into exercise, allowing your heart to adjust to intensity," she says.
Video: Dr. Oz Explains How to Avoid Tension Headaches
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