If you’re hit with headaches after your workouts, it can make staying active really difficult. The headaches can be incapacitating, making it difficult to move on with your day or go to sleep. Whether your headaches are overwhelming or annoying, getting to bottom of what is going on is very important.

Are the Headaches a Sign of Something Serious?

If you talk to a doctor about headaches, you’ll probably hear that there are two general types: primary and secondary exertion headaches. About 10 percent of the population suffers from primary exertion headaches. They are more common for men. Secondary exertion headaches are caused by health problems like decreased blood flow or tumors and are definitely more serious. So how do you know the difference?

  • Primary exertion headaches will give you pounding pain in the head but should only last a few hours.
  • Secondary exertion headaches will give you the same pain but will last for at least a day or even longer.

What Makes Workout Headaches Happen?

While doctors aren’t completely sure about what causes primary exertion headaches, they have identified two common issues including low blood sugar and/or dehydration.

  • Low blood sugar

    • If aren’t eating right or skipping meals, you aren’t giving your brain the sugar it needs while under strain from working out. Your brain uses more sugar than any part of your body, so if you’re struggling with headaches, you might want to pay more attention to your meals and include pre-workout snacks.
  • Dehydration

    • The sweating we do during workouts can really dehydrate us, causing headaches.You should drink about 20 to 32 ounces of water for each hour you workout to ensure your body recovers correctly and is ready for your next workout.
  • Muscle tension

    • Your brain might be struggling because of its neighbors. If you struggle with muscle tension in your neck and shoulders, that tension may be pulling on the muscles of your head and creating the pain you feel.
  • Pressure in your head

    • If you’re hydrated, eating well, and making sure your muscles are loose, you might be struggling with expanded blood vessels in your brain. Studies have shown that strenuous exercise over a long period can expand the blood vessels and cause pain that can last for anywhere from five minutes to two days.
  • Dirty air

    • This is the least-expected cause of workout headaches. Whether you work out inside a fitness center or out in nature, your body may be reacting to perfumes, cleaners, air fresheners, and dust. If you are especially sensitive to these things, it’s worth considering

What Can You Do Right Away to Stop a Workout Headache?

The most basic solution to headaches that happen even though you’re doing everything right is an over-the-counter painkiller. However, taking painkillers every time you get a headache is not good for your body. We suggest you go after electrolytes like coconut water to ensure your body has enough. If the headache is bad enough, take a break. Lastly, if your headache makes you faint, vomit, see double, or suffer a rigid neck, you’re seeing signs of deeper problems, and it’s time to see a medical professional.

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