It is common to have a headache after exercising, and there can be several reasons for this. Learn what you can do to avoid headaches after your next workout.
A form of physical activity triggers an exertional headache. It can be a strenuous workout you have completed, and you may feel that it happened during or after the training. People often describe exertional headaches as a throbbing pain on both sides of the head, and the pain can last a few minutes to a few days. Exertional headache only happens with exercise. People are also more likely to develop headaches when exercising in hot weather or at high altitudes.
How To Prevent Exercise Headaches
If you often get a headache and have other unusual symptoms, it is best to consult a doctor. Exercise headaches usually go away on their own after a few months. Drink water before and during exercise, especially if you exercise in warmer temperatures. For some, gradually warming up before exercising can help prevent exertional headaches. In other cases, it also helps prevent headaches when you reduce your training intensity.
You are dehydrated
Dehydration can occur when your body loses too much fluid. The chances are good that you sweat when you exercise. If you do not drink enough water before exercising, it is easy to become dehydrated. A headache can be the first sign of dehydration. Other symptoms of mild dehydration may include:
- Increased feeling of thirst
- Decreased urine production
- Dry skin and mouth
How to prevent dehydration
Drink plenty of water. A sports drink can help restore your electrolytes, but these often contain added sugar that worsens the headache. Try drinking 1 to 3 cups of water for an hour or two before exercising. You can also bring a water bottle during your workout so you can drink while you exercise. Make sure you have plenty of water after your workout as well.
Low blood sugar level
Low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia, can cause headaches after exercise. Glucose is the body’s most important energy source, and your body can deplete its glucose stores, leading to hypoglycemia.
A headache is one of several symptoms of hypoglycemia. Other symptoms include:
- Feeling hungry
- Visual disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
Eat a nutritious, balanced meal or snack within two hours after exercise. Get enough protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber to help balance your blood sugar. Avoid sugar or other refined carbohydrates.
You’re in bad shape
When you are in poor shape, exercising can lead to muscle tension, quickly leading to headaches, primarily if you use the neck and shoulder muscles. Weightlifting, pushups, crunches, and running can lead to stress in the neck if the training is not done correctly. If the workout involves things that strain your neck, you can perform light stretching exercises after the workout. If you are unsure of the right way to do an activity, consider doing a session or two with a personal trainer.