Should I train with migraines

a headache : Training despite migraines?

Anyone who has never had a migraine can only be congratulated. When it gets really bad, some people vomit with nausea. The hellish pain makes the tears roll. Every sound is too much. But migraines have many faces and stages. If the pain is still bearable, some people wonder which sport would be the right one. And: How should I train with migraines - with power or just very easily? First of all: the individual case certainly decides, but in principle sport is not a “no no” for migraines. So you shouldn't let migraines stop you from moving. But once she has struck with full force, sport is usually out of the question.

What is a migraine anyway?

Migraines are a complex clinical picture. Some of the symptoms can include:

  • regular throbbing headache, throbbing headache on one side
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • strong sensitivity to light and sound

Migraines with aura

There are two main types of migraines: migraines with aura and migraines without aura. An aura can have the following characteristics:

  • unilateral headache
  • Flashes of light (flashes of lightning), black or colored spots in the field of vision
  • light or completely restricted field of vision
  • neurological disorders such as tingling in the hand, as well as speech disorders and symptoms of paralysis

Migraines without aura

Migraines without aura do not have these symptoms. However, a sensitivity to light and noise can be felt. Gastric and intestinal disorders occur in both forms and this may make it difficult to take medication.

Causes of Migraines

Exact causes are not known. Genetic factors cannot be ruled out either. Certain incidents, such as strong emotions such as fear, arousal, or depression, can provoke attacks. More options:

  • Lifting heavy objects or bending down
  • rapid change in weather; in Bavaria: hair dryer
  • severe eye irritation, long gazes at the TV screen or computer monitor, strong sunlight
  • hormonal changes, e.g. menstruation, menopause
  • Malnutrition due to fasting or weight loss, irregular eating, food allergy
  • Medicines such as hormonal birth control pills, sleeping pills, pain relievers, or antibiotics
  • allergic reaction

Even simple everyday activities can contribute to an improvement. Walking, cycling, hiking. The blood circulation and metabolism are stimulated, and relaxation is promoted. A pain management personal trainer will be able to give you many more tips on how to reduce the sensation of pain. Holistic health advice can also help to improve the conditions for a life without frequent migraines.

Exercise and migraines

Especially in the early stages with the well-known warning signs, such as the onset of a headache, overactivity or a numb feeling in the fingers, an attack can be prevented by relaxed movement. Evidence suggests that sufficient exercise can significantly reduce migraine attacks, both in terms of the duration and frequency of the attacks.

In general, we do not advise against any sport. You can do all kinds of sports, sometimes with less intensity or with shorter duration and regular breaks.

What should I watch out for when training?

Alternate exercise and recovery. If you feel pain in a certain position of the head while exercising, you need to seek specific advice. In order to maintain motivation, it is important that you choose a sport that you enjoy and that suits you. A good warm-up, as well as relaxing and cooling down, is also very important. Of course, we recommend the supervision of a personal trainer.

Strength training and "top-heavy" sport

Avoid very high loads and press breathing, especially when doing strength training. Make sure you are performing in a controlled manner and breathing evenly. Sports with particular stress on the head, e.g. boxing or American football, are not recommended.

High altitude such as mountain sports, winter sports or air sports), as well as depth during scuba diving and intense heat can also cause headaches. Due to the restricted coordination and movement control, the risk of injuries is higher in the event of a seizure. Be sure to let your personal trainer know that you have migraines so that they can adjust to your situation accordingly

Beware of blood pressure problems!

Since low blood sugar levels can also be a trigger, it is best to take a few sugar dispensers, e.g. grape sugar, into place before heavy and long endurance exercise.

General tips

The exercise should be fun and suit you. Try different sports or ask your personal trainer about alternatives. In any case, inform him before training and stop training in the event of a migraine attack. Do not be discouraged! As the saying goes: "When your trainer is behind you, you can only go forward".

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Jörg Gerstmann

Jörg Gerstmann is a qualified sports scientist and personal trainer and has more than 10 years of professional experience as a full-time personal trainer. During his studies he specialized in workplace health promotion. Training courses on stress management, autogenic training and progressive muscle relaxation expand his offer. After a motorcycle accident with serious injury in 2015, Jörg fought his way up again with hard training and completed his first alpine cross (of four) on a mountain bike in 2017 ... more about the trainer