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  1. #1
    Registered User mattsask's Avatar
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    headache when working out

    Hey guys i have been lifting for about 2 years solid and have made some good gains, but recently when i workout i get a throbing headache. This headache seems to only come about when i am lifting heavy, if i lift only at about 60% it does not bother me. The pain is unbearable, it feels like my head is going to to explode. I have no choice but to call it quits on the workout because of the pain. This pain seems to be concentrated at the back of my head just above the ears. I have a good diet and stay well hydrated so i know that is not whats causing it. I went to the doctor who recommended that i have some blood work done tomorrow as a precaution. Does anyone have experience with this, know the cause or anything i can to to stop this pain? any help or suggestions would be much appreciated!
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    Something similar just happened to me. I was trying to get an extra pull-up and gave it everything I had and as soon as I got to the top I got this sudden, excruciating pain in the back left of my head. It still kills. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.
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  3. #3
    Registered User M3Rachel's Avatar
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    I always get a headache when i'm really straining myself and lifting weights. Try to force yourself to breathe easy. I noticed I was holding my breath and straining REALLY hard, and all your bloodflow goes directly to the muscle for oxygen... so I really focus on my breathing WHILE lifting and it's helped IMMENSELY. I get them BAD on leg days.

    It could also be from not being hydrated perfectly, but if you feel your water consumption is correct, then like I said, see if regulating your breathing is okay when you're lifting
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  4. #4
    Registered User mattsask's Avatar
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    like i said i have been working out for two years, i did get dehydration headaches a couple of times when i first started but they were nothing like i am experiencing now. I have tried concentrating on breathing, it does not even begin to help. the pain you describe seems a little different from what im experiencing. it is unbearable, im no pussy but there is absolutely no way i can continue my workout. It's almost like there is a little gremlin inside my head with a big hammer, beating my head to the beat of my heart.lol. from what i have read they are called exertion headaches, there are quite a few people who lift weights that report the exact same problem but there seems to be no info on the cause/remedy.
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    Registered User M3Rachel's Avatar
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    Damn, get it checked out by a doctor dude. Could be serious.
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  6. #6
    Registered User mattsask's Avatar
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    ya i went and had some blood work done today, just to make sure im healthy before they scan my brain. hope its nothing to serious, i want to get back into the gym.
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  7. #7
    Registered User M3Rachel's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mattsask View Post
    ya i went and had some blood work done today, just to make sure im healthy before they scan my brain. hope its nothing to serious, i want to get back into the gym.
    Get better soon dude
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  8. #8
    Registered User Jake27's Avatar
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    I started getting the exact same thing a bit over a week ago whenever I do incline dumbell or barbell work, it feels like it's where the spine meets the brain and throbs to the beat of my heart.
    I remember getting this same thing for about 2 weeks when I was about 10 or so and then it went away.
    Be sure to let us know how the blood work and things go.
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  9. #9
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    I had the same problem a couple years ago it came on after i felt a slight pop or strain doing squats, i felt it i the back of my head and a couple of days later it happened again and the pain was so bad that it made me pass out, they did MRI'S and other testing and never did figure out what it was. It was pretty scary so whenever i go heavy if i try not to strain myself too much.
    good luck
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    I've recently been experiencing the same headaches that were triggered on a leg day last week. I somehow strained a trap during a squat and felt the pinch all the way to my occipital (back) area of the head. Took a day off to recover and today I had a reacurance without the strain.... just a throbbing headache. I'm similar to the boat your in Matt, but I've discovered if you rub in a circular motion the squamosal suture area of the head, right above and behind the ears, it helps relieve the pressure.

    Good luck with the outcome... let us know the results.
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    Registered User the_invince's Avatar
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    this is a common thing if you check around the forums, botched valsalva. you're not breathing properly(most commonly holding your breath) when lifting. could be all the time, or just from one big lift and you accidently held your breath causing a big spike in your blood pressure.

    it will persist for a couple of weeks even should you maintain normal breathing patterns, so it's advisable to go very easy on the lifting or stop lifting until it passes, you don't want an aneurysm.
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    Registered User scarletngrey's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by the_invince View Post
    this is a common thing if you check around the forums, botched valsalva. you're not breathing properly(most commonly holding your breath) when lifting. could be all the time, or just from one big lift and you accidently held your breath causing a big spike in your blood pressure.

    it will persist for a couple of weeks even should you maintain normal breathing patterns, so it's advisable to go very easy on the lifting or stop lifting until it passes, you don't want an aneurysm.
    Had this same problem.

    Went to the doctors today and he requested I immediately get an MRI and MRA that day for an aneurysm.

    Nervously awaiting results.

    edit: came back negative
    Last edited by scarletngrey; 02-17-2009 at 06:21 PM.
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  13. #13
    Registered User DesilNick's Avatar
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    go to doctor

    go to a doctor ive never herd of that
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  14. #14
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    Originally Posted by mattsask View Post
    Hey guys i have been lifting for about 2 years solid and have made some good gains, but recently when i workout i get a throbing headache. This headache seems to only come about when i am lifting heavy, if i lift only at about 60% it does not bother me. The pain is unbearable, it feels like my head is going to to explode. I have no choice but to call it quits on the workout because of the pain. This pain seems to be concentrated at the back of my head just above the ears. I have a good diet and stay well hydrated so i know that is not whats causing it. I went to the doctor who recommended that i have some blood work done tomorrow as a precaution. Does anyone have experience with this, know the cause or anything i can to to stop this pain? any help or suggestions would be much appreciated!
    How long does it last? Do you feel something similar (not necessarily same intensity) when you are having sex or even during a bowel movement?


    It does sounds like exertional headache, due to improper breathing technique causing vein congestion through your upper body and head or worse a jugular vein valve incompetence (to be diagnosed with U/S).

    Proper breathing during heavy weights can help to a point, but eventually, with very heavy weights comes a lot of exertion that regardless of how much you exhale during exertion, some blood will still jam up your veins, pushing them back into your jugular veins creating a congestion in your sinuses. This will cause minor headache with relief from seconds to minutes. Add an incompetent valve in the jugular vein and you have more retrograde blood flow, further reducing cerebral sinus vein drainage. This would cause headaches that would last hrs to days.
    blake
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  15. #15
    Registered User mattsask's Avatar
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    the headache calms down if i relax and really concentrate on breathing but it persists as a mild head ache for a few hours afterwards. as for the sex, i cant have it without the headache comming back, so that is a real bummer haha. i am able to carry on with moderately intense cardio(bike) without any problem. i have decided to change up my diet a little bit and try to shed some of those extra lbs i have gained during bulking, since i can only do cardio. I figure at least this way the problem will not set me back to much.
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  16. #16
    Registered User mattsask's Avatar
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    scarletngray, did the doctor offer you any explanation as to what it could be? my doctor lead me to believe that it could be due to the 3 concussions i suffered a few years ago as a competitive ski racer.
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    This happens sometimes to me, like I use my school's weight room, afterschool to work out. If its been a long day, tiring and whatnot, and as soon as I step into the weight room, my head has a mild headache, but I don't think this is the same as yours.


    I bet what is happening to you is becuse of breathing. Believe it or not, most people have the reflex ability to hold their breath while maxing out or going heavy, your probably don't realize but your holding in your breath, and this deprives some of the oxygen going into your brain, which cuases more bloodflow creating a headache. Also, if your lifting too fast, say you have a low weight on your bench, and your doing a quick 20 reps or so, if your lifting pretty fast to get it over with, the breaths you take go directly to lung and out, and they don't reach the muscles and brian or other parts correctly.

    so, what i'm trying to say is, if your lifting heavy, put extra work into breathing properly, each rep should take 2 to 3 seconds, don't go too slow or too fast.
    I rep back, just sayin.

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  18. #18
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    Originally Posted by the_invince View Post
    this is a common thing if you check around the forums, botched valsalva. you're not breathing properly(most commonly holding your breath) when lifting. could be all the time, or just from one big lift and you accidently held your breath causing a big spike in your blood pressure.

    it will persist for a couple of weeks even should you maintain normal breathing patterns, so it's advisable to go very easy on the lifting or stop lifting until it passes, you don't want an aneurysm.
    I agree with the above, it sounds BP related. Hold out for the doc results - rushing back into the gym before an answer could be dangerous.

    Get well soon.
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  19. #19
    Registered User mattsask's Avatar
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    I appreciate the suggestions but i can assure you that my breathing pattern is definately not the problem. I guess you would have to experience this to fully understand what im going through and the things that trigger this. I can tell that there are a few posts on here of people who have absolutely experienced what im talking about. Im not lifting to heavy and it is definately not because i am going to fast or to slow. I have been lifting for a couple years now and have never had problems like that so i highly doubt that my breathing pattern would have changed drastically enough to create these crippling headaches. I dont mean any disrespect and do appreciate the suggestions.
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  20. #20
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    Breathe, and make sure youre hydrated enough. Have you switched any supps?
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  21. #21
    Registered User mattsask's Avatar
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    I am not on any supplements at the moment. I had just finished a creatine cycle days before this occured.
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  22. #22
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    Originally Posted by mattsask View Post
    scarletngray, did the doctor offer you any explanation as to what it could be? my doctor lead me to believe that it could be due to the 3 concussions i suffered a few years ago as a competitive ski racer.
    His main concern because it only affected me during heavy workouts was a brain aneurysm. He examined me and then told me to immediately get an MRI and MRA that day, and then talk to him after the results. I was scared to death at this point because the two times I got this headache I seriously thought I was going to die. The first time was last friday, and it completely shut down my workout, but went away a couple hours later.

    The second time was monday, I warmed up and then got up to my normal bench press, and by the second rep I felt it coming on again. I collapsed to the floor and lost my vision for a few minutes. It was a 10/10 on the pain scale. This lasted for maybe an hour at this rate, and stayed with me for 2-3 days.

    I showed him a couple supplements I started taking, and have only took on the two days that I have had this headache occur, PEA and CL White Flood. He thinks the PEA might have something to do with it sense that directly affects the brain, but I have heard the stimulants in White Flood could also cause a problem, even though I took a sample of it a month ago and it worked great.

    He told me to just stay off the supplements and take it easy but I can start lifting again, and to call him in a week and let him know how im doing and if the headaches are gone.

    The headache occurs in the back of my head right in the middle. He said this is unusual for a migrane so he doesnt believe its a migrane. It could be a pinched nerve but im not real sure what else it could be? I just know its the most extreme pain I have ever felt. Its a ridiculously painful pounding.

    I am hoping it was just a bad reaction to the supplements, because I am starting my workout tomorrow and that way I will be fine. However if its an exertion headache or pinched nerve, I will have to take more time off.
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  23. #23
    Registered User mattsask's Avatar
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    thanks for the heads up on that, hopefully for your sake it was just one of those supplements that caused it and you will be able to continue lifting right away. Let me know how that goes.
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  24. #24
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    Originally Posted by mattsask View Post
    thanks for the heads up on that, hopefully for your sake it was just one of those supplements that caused it and you will be able to continue lifting right away. Let me know how that goes.
    So I started lifting again today.

    I had a very healthy breakfast and preworkout meal and rode a stationary bike for maybe 5 minutes and drank around 64 oz of water (all things I have read that help prevent lifting headaches.) My first lift is always the bench press, and its the lift that I hurt my head on.

    I am a beginner so and I am currently benching 180 lbs for reps. So I started out at 100 and did 10. Then on to 120 and did 10. Then on to 140 and did 10. I decided to take it a little easier than normal and then I just did 4 sets of 160. Much to my relief I never got my headache, and I just finished my workout and felt great. I definitely focused on form and breathing.

    Ill continue lifting at maybe 90% of my normal capacity for a few more days and then move on and go back to trying to make gains. If I had to guess now I would say my headache definitely had to do with the PEA or White Flood I took pre workout.
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  25. #25
    Registered User mattsask's Avatar
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    good to hear its going well so far, let me know how it goes when you get fully back into it! I did some cardio today for an hour bringing my heart rate upto 170 bpm and it didnt bother my head at all. As soon as I started lifting light weights my head started throbing right away. does this make any sense to anyone? why would i be able to exert myself so much doing cardio and not be able to preform weight lifting ecercises at less than 50% of my normal weight?
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    Registered User insightful's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mattsask View Post
    Hey guys i have been lifting for about 2 years solid and have made some good gains, but recently when i workout i get a throbing headache. This headache seems to only come about when i am lifting heavy, if i lift only at about 60% it does not bother me. The pain is unbearable, it feels like my head is going to to explode. I have no choice but to call it quits on the workout because of the pain. This pain seems to be concentrated at the back of my head just above the ears. I have a good diet and stay well hydrated so i know that is not whats causing it. I went to the doctor who recommended that i have some blood work done tomorrow as a precaution. Does anyone have experience with this, know the cause or anything i can to to stop this pain? any help or suggestions would be much appreciated!
    I had the same thing happen to me when I was doing some training w/ a friend.
    He recomended drinking something w/ a lot of sugar in it, he said it would help spike my insulin (or something like that).

    I dont carry high-sugar drinks, so I just took a small amount of stright sugar, and let it desolve on my tounge.... like little magic crystals, my throbbing headace was gone in secnods.

    Give it a try... might help.
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    Originally Posted by mattsask View Post
    Hey guys i have been lifting for about 2 years solid and have made some good gains, but recently when i workout i get a throbing headache. This headache seems to only come about when i am lifting heavy, if i lift only at about 60% it does not bother me. The pain is unbearable, it feels like my head is going to to explode. I have no choice but to call it quits on the workout because of the pain. This pain seems to be concentrated at the back of my head just above the ears. I have a good diet and stay well hydrated so i know that is not whats causing it. I went to the doctor who recommended that i have some blood work done tomorrow as a precaution. Does anyone have experience with this, know the cause or anything i can to to stop this pain? any help or suggestions would be much appreciated!
    Matt and Others,

    I found your thread and am experiencing the same thing. Did you ever figure out what was causing the headaches? I have an MRI scheduled for tomorrow but am thinking maybe I pulled or pinched something in my neck. Today was the fourth day in a row this has happened and it happened during a warm up squat with no weight, and fully hydrated. Super frustrating. I had to stop and quite for the day because it was 10/10 on the pain scale. Now 5-hours later its 2/10 on the scale.

    Mike
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    Sorry for a long bump but this is happening to me.
    I was doing chin ups negatives and going down slow while holding my breadth. All of a sudden, I have a massive headache I never felt before. So unbearable I had to stop. I tried to do squats but head started hurting after the 6th rep.
    I went to the orthopedic and received a neck, back adjustment but still getting headaches.
    Im planning to get an MRI, CT soon.
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    curious?

    did anyone ever find out the problem i am experiencing the same now, it was brought on by pushing out my last rep on dumbell press and it came now i cant do any kind of wieghts without it coming back, crazy thumping headache like the pulse of my heart smashing my brain
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    Smile What works for me

    I have had this problem occur twice before, well once, and am now suffering from it again. What has happened is a vertebrae in my neck twisted to the left and has pinched a nerve that runs to the occipital lobe. Due to this any strain causes pounding headaches. Years ago when it happened the first time I went for CT Scans, MRI, blood work everything. Doctor told me it could be an anyurism so I was freaking out for weeks. Finally I figured why not try the chiropractor. Sure enough after seeing him twice a week for about 3 weeks without going to the gym doing cardio or anything I was back like new.

    Hope that helps!
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