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The Relationship Between Migraines and Exercise

By Donna Stark

I am not a fan of complicated relationships. Never have been, really. The back and forth between the good and the bad is usually more than I can handle so I try to avoid them at all costs, but unfortunately, I seem to have found myself in one recently. Well, actually, it's my daughter's complicated relationship, but since I am her mom, that means it falls in my lap too. Luckily, this relationship doesn't involve anybody other than my daughter but believe me when I say it is filled with plenty of the good and bad. Curious as to what it is? Well, it has to do with her migraines and her desire to exercise, and if you suffer from migraines as well, you probably already know how complicated that relationship can be. 

Migraines and Exercise

On one hand, daily exercise can help reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines, but on the other, it can also be a huge trigger for headache pain. So what is a person to do? Especially when they know the one thing that can help is also the one thing that can hurt? Talk about a complicated mess, right? Well, you don't have to stop exercising if you suffer from migraines, but you should take some extra precautions to do so safely. Take a look at the following tips. 

  • Listening to your pain - Do not try to exercise if you're in the middle of a migraine because it can make the pain worse
  • Starting slow - Start with a low-impact activity that you like, such as walking, hiking, swimming, or cycling
  • Giving more when you can - Increase the intensity of your exercise gradually by adding hills, stairs, or box jumps to your routine
  • Avoiding too much at once - Limit your high-impact workouts to once a week, and build from there as long as you are comfortable
  • Eating smart - Avoid those migraines by fueling your body with the right foods before and after your workouts
  • Staying hydrated - Dehydration can trigger headache pain, so be sure to stay properly hydrated, especially before, during, and after your workouts
  • Warming up - Jumping right into physical activity can lead to migraine pain, so start your fitness routine with a five-minute warm-up
  • Keeping cool - Another migraine trigger is allowing yourself to get overheated, so try to exercise in a cool environment or during cooler times of the day
  • Watching your posture - Using the correct form while you exercise can reduce the risk of migraines by eliminating any unnecessary stress placed on your back, neck, and shoulders

Lose the Complications

In addition to improving your body's overall health, exercise also stimulates the release of its feel-good hormones and natural painkillers. So take the necessary steps to get ahead of your migraines, reduce the amount of time they spend with you, and lose this complicated relationship once and for all.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Sunset Hills, Mo.

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