Why do you get headaches when you work out?

Painful muscles can be caused by a strenuous interval workout or a long aerobic session, but what about a sore head? It happens more frequently than you might expect. According to a study of 4,000 cyclists published in the journal Headache, 37% of those polled said they had at least one exercise-induced headache every month.

According to neurologist Lawrence C. Newman, MD, is the president of the American Headache Society and the director of the Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Headache Institute. Luke’s Roosevelt, exercise dilates the blood vessels in your head, which can cause headaches by stimulating branches of the trigeminal nerve — the nerve in the brain that carries painful sensations from within the skull outward.

The majority of exercise-induced headaches are harmless, but some are signs of more significant issues. How can you identify the difference between the two? According to Newman, the innocuous type usually affects both sides of the brain and lasts between five minutes and one day.

“When exercising in the heat and humidity, in high-altitude regions, and in persons with a history of migraines, the benign variety is more common,” he explains. Stop working out and contact a doctor if the discomfort lasts more than a few days or is followed by vomiting, numbness, double vision, or loss of consciousness.

If you only have a pounding head when you’re lifting weights, your posture could be to blame. “Rounding the shoulders forward might create excessive neck muscle contractions, which can lead to spasms and a headache,” Holland explains. Keep your shoulders back and your posture upright.

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