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Old 12-14-2010, 09:42 PM   #1
Clark Petri
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Exercise Induced Headache?

My back story: I fell in love with Crossfit three years ago and a WOD is my favorite part of the day when work (Nuclear Navy sucks) allows time. All in all, despite not being the next Mikko when it comes to sheer performance I've always been really healthy.

What happened: I do a WOD Thursday with no problems. Rest Friday. On WODs Sat/Sun/Mon shortly into them I get a crushing headache like nothing I've ever experienced. Nearly debilitating and I've pushed through a lot of pain between years of judo and jujitsu.

When I stop working out during the Sat/Sun ones the headache subsides within minutes but Monday night it stayed on keeping me up. So, I bite the bullet and go to the Naval hospital ER because I seriously thought I was maybe having cerebral hemorrhaging or an aneurysm.

CAT scan and spinal tap show no issues at all with bleeding and no meningitis. Their diagnosis? The aptly named "Exercise Induced Headache." They say in men my age group (I'm 29) they can arbitrarily become an issue and go away as quickly as they come about. I'm good to exericse (I won't die) but should feel out what I can do without bringing on the severe pain.

The only thing I found on the web was on livestrong.com. Does anyone out there have any experience with this? The Navy just left it at that (they did offer beta blockers which I declined for the time being). For the record, I don't smoke, use supplements beyond a multivitamin, or drink caffeine. I drink socially on rare occasion.

Thanks everyone. 3, 2, 1 - GO.

Edit: Saturday they came on during jumping pullups, Sunday during benchpress, Monday during squats.

Last edited by Clark Petri : 12-14-2010 at 10:01 PM.
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:37 PM   #2
Matt Haxmeier
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Re: Exercise Induced Headache?

Search or Check out the threads that show up in the box below this. It's pretty common. I get them too and they suck horribly.

There are a few threads on this board and other training message boards which cover what can be done about them....which doesn't amount to much. Basically, hydrate, massage, and take a break for a bit until they go away. Try and stay loser when your working out, especially in the shoulders/traps and avoid overhead tension for a bit (thrusters, OHS, etc). Test out some light workouts and ease your way back into them or else they will keep bothering you. When you feel it coming on quit...it's just not worth the hassle that getting really bad ones can lead to. For example my last one was so bad it left me with a dull headache for 2 months. You don't want that. It's better to take it easy for a few days than have a headache for months.

Last edited by Matt Haxmeier : 12-14-2010 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 12-15-2010, 11:04 AM   #3
Steven Low
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Re: Exercise Induced Headache?

Tghe usual suspects... sigh

Massage to neck and suboccipitals.

Also, massage your temporalis and masseter (jaw muscles)

Make sure you keep head neutral during exercise. Most exercises you want to look up (pullup bar chin up) squat and deadlifts etc (head up to keep lumbar curve)

That's not correct and really tighens up the neck. Kepe the head neutral

Bit more stuff here wfs
http://eatmoveimprove.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=13
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Old 12-15-2010, 02:10 PM   #4
Clark Petri
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Re: Exercise Induced Headache?

The massage stuff will be good. I still don't get why this so rapidly became an issue. It isn't like my form suddenly went out the window or I'm abnormally tense. Hell, for the first time since I discovered Crossfit I'm on shore duty and not all tense and stressed out from ship life.

Matt: I know you mean by the dull headache. I've had one since Monday and I hope it goes away sooner rather than later. This sucks.
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Old 12-17-2010, 12:48 AM   #5
Brent Sallee
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Re: Exercise Induced Headache?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Petri View Post
The massage stuff will be good. I still don't get why this so rapidly became an issue. It isn't like my form suddenly went out the window or I'm abnormally tense. Hell, for the first time since I discovered Crossfit I'm on shore duty and not all tense and stressed out from ship life.

Matt: I know you mean by the dull headache. I've had one since Monday and I hope it goes away sooner rather than later. This sucks.
Honestly, if you just sleep wrong one night, these things can come on hard and fast. I found this out relatively early in my lifting experiences. I went to squat something like 275x5 and the Valsalva really, really brought on the pain. I could barely walk. Nowadays if I get one, I work on levator scap, upper trap, suboccipital muscles, proximal erector spinae, etc. I stretch my neck for 15-30s in every direction and I'm typically fine. If not, I get a heat pad on it and then massage for a bit. If that doesn't work, I get to the chiropractor and get a cervical adjustment. Has worked for me every time. Hope you can find what works for you, Clark.
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Old 12-17-2010, 09:52 PM   #6
Brian O'Laughlin
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Re: Exercise Induced Headache?

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Originally Posted by Steven Low View Post
Make sure you keep head neutral during exercise. Most exercises you want to look up (pullup bar chin up) squat and deadlifts etc (head up to keep lumbar curve)

That's not correct and really tightens up the neck. Keep the head neutral

Bit more stuff here wfs
http://eatmoveimprove.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=13
YES! Careful about keeping the head neutral.

I went through a similar thing (sudden, severe headaches), especially with pull ups. I don't tip my head back now for pull ups at all. Problem solved for the most part. Some of the other movements (Double unders) can be tricky.
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Old 12-18-2010, 10:32 AM   #7
Clark Petri
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Re: Exercise Induced Headache?

Update: Fourth day with spot on signs of a lumbar puncture headache (severe pain when standing sitting which goes away almost instantly when laying down). The docs didn't offer me a blood patch, which, if I'm still hurting this bad on Monday when upright I'm going to ask for.

When I think over the events of the first exercise headache I realize my neck alignment sucked during the jumping pullups. I don't know if it is relevant but I was also wearing vibrams and impacting fairly hard.

I want these headaches to go away so badly. I've never felt like this before and now I don't know 100% if they're residual from the exercise or due to lumbar puncture.
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:27 PM   #8
Adam Blankenbiller
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Re: Exercise Induced Headache?

I know this is an old post, but Clark, what you desribed sounds exactly what I'm going through and I'm curious how things turned out for you. Well, I hope.

How long before you were able to workout again? Do you still get the headaches?

Brief history:
A week and a half ago I was in the middle of a WOD, doing OHSs, and suddenly a crippling headache came on. It went from 0 to 10 in about a minute. Worst headache of my life. I tried to push through, but had to stop. The headache lasted for over 2 hours at full force then finally faded to a dull throb.

The dull headache lasted through the next night, until I slightly exerted myself and it came back full force for another 30 minutes. At that point I decided I'd go to the doctor in the morning. The Doc gave me a CAT scan and lumbar pucture (both came up clear) and referred me to a neurologist.

Now that the after affects of the lumbar puncture have faded, my headache is mostly gone, but if I exert myself, bend down, sneeze, etc. I can feel the headache wanting to come back full force. I've learned to hold it back by avoiding certain things, but still feel there's no way I'd be able to exercise.

I have an appoinment with the nuerologist in the morning, so I'm hoping he has some answers.

I'm a 28 year old male in pretty good shape (Crossfitter for 9 months now). I eat well, mostly paleo. And have no previous history of headaches.

Oh, and I've recently visited a chiropractor and had a deep tissue massage. Both seemed to help temporarily, but no lasting relief.
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:23 PM   #9
Mike Darlington
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Re: Exercise Induced Headache?

I've experienced these too for the first time ever this year. 26 years old, good health, CrossFitting for years, never had headaches or similar issues in the past. I was doing max DUs one morning and within about a minute of starting had a pounding debilitating headache. It has happened a few times after. I talked to some friends, and apparently they get them every year when the seasons change. My first headache occurred the first cold morning we had here in NC. My guess is it's due to the weather/pressure change.

I got these headaches for about 2 weeks but haven't had one in about 10 days. Here's what I did that seemed to help:

1. Warm up slower and more deliberately than normal. I'll row a slow 500, maybe run a slow 400m, then a few rounds of 5-10 push ups, a few pull ups, air squats, etc. Get that heart rate up but at gradual pace.

2. Neck/upper back/shoulders massage, maybe some chiropractic care

3. Take 3-4 Advil 30-60m before working out

Good luck!
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:07 PM   #10
Topher Ngo
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Re: Exercise Induced Headache?

http://www.mobilitywod.com/2011/04/e...che-beast.htmlYOU MUST ANNOTATE ALL LINKS AS TO WHETHER WORK AND FAMILY SAFE

Don't try to fight through the headache. If you feel it coming on, cut the workout short. Should eventually go away.
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