can't exercise anymore. I feel like migraines have ruined my life.

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can't exercise anymore. I feel like migraines have ruined my life.

Post  thekrstring on Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:23 am

Hi everybody. My name is Keegan. I got my first migraine on my 19th birthday since that day a little over a year ago I have found it nearly unbearable to exercise at a high level of performance. when I get up in the morning I will do light exercises like light push ups around 10 and about 10 squats to wake up and even this will trigger pain in my head and this is obviously just my body weight, just to shake off sleep . I have read forums where they say you have to warm up to exercise, I have attempted this, the only exercise I can perform marginally is swimming. I can swim about 15 laps if I do not hurry and only in certain forms with a good warm up and afterward I will feel light headed and dizzy for upwards of forty minutes to an hour and a half. if i spontaneously exercise such as basketball let's say to play full court for something like 5 minutes I will get a blistering nightmare of a migraine, as long as I play it will be bearable i suppose but when I stop it only gets worse. I'm only twenty it feels so unfair to see everyone around me take such an easy thing as playing 5 minutes of basketball for granted. I have to plan my food three days ahead of time to play 5 minutes of basketball. Is there anyone who has gone through a similar problem with exercise and migraine, I feel like it might be a neck tension issue. I used to work out quite a lot at the maybe the low end of what you would consider power lifting I may have done some soft tissue damage is there any remedy? I have just switched neurologists. I'm glad this forum is here I felt really alone until I came across it.

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Re: can't exercise anymore. I feel like migraines have ruined my life.

Post  thekrstring on Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:27 am

to add I don't just get migraines due to exercise my triggers are stress, preservatives caffeine dairy nuts citrus exercise, pretty much life. quite depressing really.

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Re: can't exercise anymore. I feel like migraines have ruined my life.

Post  Kate on Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:17 am

My m keep me from exercising on a regular basis. When I do exercise(which is not that much), I have to pace myself. I get light headed easily and if I go full throttle, I'll pay later with a m. I have found that the only thing I can do now is walk and ride a stationary bike.

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Re: can't exercise anymore. I feel like migraines have ruined my life.

Post  Seaine on Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:43 am

It's likely not a neck tension or muscle tension issue. Migraines are vascular, the pain comes when blood vessels in your head spasm, or constrict and dilate. Blood vessels in your body dilate when you exercise, including the ones in your head. It's as simple as that, as far as I know.

Have you tried beta blockers yet? Supposedly they keep blood vessels from spasming.
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Re: can't exercise anymore. I feel like migraines have ruined my life.

Post  Migrainegirl on Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:09 pm

I have found a cool damp cloth around my neck really helps with temperature regulation, which I think is a lot of the problem with exercising.
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Re: can't exercise anymore. I feel like migraines have ruined my life.

Post  Platypus on Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:10 am

Physical exertion is a very common migraine trigger. It's an unfortunate aspect to our disorder, but it must be respected. It's great that you can swim, because that's such a great form of exercise -- the best in many respects: super good cardio-vascular workout, and doesn't submit the feet, ankles and knees to the pounding that running does. 15 laps is a lot -- maybe back off a bit and find your equilibrium where you won't have the after-effects.
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Re: can't exercise anymore. I feel like migraines have ruined my life.

Post  thekrstring on Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:20 am

thanks for your information guys i will look into temperature regulation perhaps cutting back even more o nthe amount of laps and looking into beta blockers it just seems quite f@$%kin unfair that for no apparent reason a can't work out. i mean so many more aspects of my life have been completely changed but like really, i don't even get to punish myself.

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Re: can't exercise anymore. I feel like migraines have ruined my life.

Post  doximom on Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:32 am

I'm so sorry you are dealing with this. I understand -- going from being really active to having to limit yourself to 15 laps in the pool is pretty discouraging. But remember - any exercise is better than none at all.

For me, I have to exercise vigorously and hard when I am feeling good and that seems to prevent headaches. BUT if I have a little inkling of a migraine and then exercise, it makes it a lot worse. My husband gets a migraine if he does anything that stresses the neck, shoulders or traps. Every time. But we are both physically fit, just have to work around these things.

This article may be helpful for you. It probably says a lot that you know already, but it's pretty good: http://www.livestrong.com/article/308135-how-to-prevent-an-exercise-induced-migraine/


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Re: can't exercise anymore. I feel like migraines have ruined my life.

Post  ConcordGrape on Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:12 am

I started writing this and as I wrote I kept thinking of more and more things. I hope one or more of my suggestions will help!

I know exactly how you feel. Over the past year or two I began getting exercise-related migraines, and have found a few things that allow me to exercise. I want to note that I do these things in tandem. I found that just trying one approach does not work. I have to do ALL of them to successfully beat the migraine!

1. Get into a routine. I know it may seem impossible--if 5 minutes makes your head throb--but as others have said, start slow. Also, I don't know about you but I am pretty stubborn. I started running recently, and got migraines every time. I kept up with it, and finally had a headache-free run the other day.

2. Mix up your exercise. It seems like you enjoy lots of different things, which is great! For a while I did lots of yoga because it was the only thing I could do that would not give me a headache. I am now adding in cardio + resistance training and am able to workout every day. Exercise raises your migraine threshold, so just keep chipping away at it and you will see your tolerance for the activity increase.

3. Eat small meals often, and stay hydrated. I try to eat every 2 hrs and carry snacks with me everywhere. I have a glass of water next to me at all times. I don't wait until I am hungry to eat--then it is too late. If I am planning to exercise I eat something small (handful of nuts) immediately before beginning and eat more when I am done. I drink before and after coming back from a run. Not too much, so I don't feel water sloshing around in my belly, but enough so I can make it through the run without feeling thirsty.

4. Warm up is important. This is actually really hard to remember, as I often find myself doing something physically exerting with friends and before I know it my head is pounding. Progressing slowly into something is key.

5. You will find that some things bother your head more than others. I can typically tolerate activities where my head stays in one place or doesn't move too quickly. Like I said before, yoga was a lifesaver for me. The other day I was slacklining with some friends and got a headache from jumping on/off the rope. (Note to self: avoid jumping.) I find resistance exercise easy to do, as long as I don't get up/down too fast. If you can't do lots of pushups at once, try doing more sets, or doing them slower.

6. Focus on breathing. When I run (especially in the beginning) I think about taking paced, deep breaths. When I lift, I exhale while lifting & inhale while lowering.

7. Another contributing factor to exercise migraines is heat! Others already mentioned vascular/temperature regulation. I agree, when I feel my head burning during exercise, a migraine will surely follow. Usually a cool, damp cloth/tie around my neck or head offers some relief, though it does not always prevent a headache. I found better results by doing biofeedback. If you want more info on this please message me--it's a great therapy.

8. Also along the lines of biofeedback, pay attention to stress! I know it is discouraging to get a migraine every time you try to be physically active, but notice how you feel when you get this headache. Not just the pain, but are muscles in your face, head, or neck tensed? Do you mentally feel exhausted? Sometimes I make a grimacing face, or I feel tension in my shoulders. If I get a migraine from exercise and it makes me upset, I try to address physical issues--eating, drinking--while also calming myself mentally.

Take home message: do not give up! If one activity doesn't work, try a different one, or change the way you did it. Remember, you are in control of your migraines not the other way around, and exercise will ultimately have a positive impact on your quality of life.

Good luck and keep us updated! xox Mel
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Re: can't exercise anymore. I feel like migraines have ruined my life.

Post  ConcordGrape on Wed Apr 24, 2013 11:04 am

One more I thought of: sun/eyes
I have yet to determine if some of the migraines I get while exercising are due to not wearing sunglasses or wearing contacts. I wear eye glasses daily, and only switch to contacts for running/biking/swimming. I usually forget to bring sunglasses because I rarely use them, but if I find myself driving or outside without them, I will get a migraine. Definitely some more things to think about!
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