Migraine Relief Through Exercise: Is This Possible?


Migraines and exercises, is this the right combination? Migraines can be debilitating, and those who suffer from it can attest to the truth of this statement. Most people might dismiss the idea of doing exercises for migraine relief. It might sound like an impossible combo. However, is it possible? 

Migraines are the third most widespread illness worldwide. It affects at least 39 million Americans and more than a billion people globally. While some individuals experience migraine attacks on a few occasions, some get them regularly.

Women are more susceptible to migraines three times more often than men. In the United States, one out of every four households has a person with migraines in it. 

How Are Migraines Diagnosed

In order to accurately diagnose migraines, patient history is essential. The International Headache Society has specific diagnostic criteria. To qualify, patients must have had at least five migraine attacks that lasted from 4 to 72 hours. At least two of the following should be present: 

  • Moderate to severe pain
  • A pulsating quality
  • Unilateral location
  • Made worse by routine physical activity like climbing up the stairs or walking 

The patient should also have at least one of the following:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Sound sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Migraines Are Neurological

Migraines are neurological in origin. Some of the neurological symptoms of migraines include the following:

  • Pain anywhere around the neck or head
  • Throbbing or pulsating head pain that intensifies with movement
  • Pain on one side of the head, or both sides (but rarely)
  • Headache that lasts anywhere from 4 to 72 hours
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and certain smells

These are the physical signs and symptoms of migraines:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Head or neck tenderness

You will see a warning before an attack happens when you suffer from migraines with an aura. Auras are usually visual disturbances but may also be sensory, or motor, or a combination. These are some of those warning signs:

  • An aura that occurs without any head pain
  • An Aura that takes about 5 to 20 minutes to develop and may last within 60 minutes 
  • Seeing an arc or glittering or shimmering zigzag border

Can You Get Migraine Relief from Exercise?

Research has shown that doing regular cardiovascular exercises can help keep migraines from occurring. A study conducted in Sweden discovered that migraine patients had fewer migraine attacks after doing 40-minute cycling workouts at least three times a week for a three-month duration. This result was comparable to results gained from one of the top migraine drugs, topiramate, without the side effects of tremors, depression, and cognitive impairment.  Aerobic workouts were also useful in helping patients with regular migraines. 

Why does exercise help with your migraines? Here are a couple of theories that answer this question conclusively.

  • Endorphins may play an essential role. These “feel-good” chemicals are released whenever you exercise, and they actually work as pain blockers. They are known as the body’s natural painkillers. 
  • A healthy amount of sweating may be a stress reliever. Since migraines are frequently triggered by stress. If you stop the trigger, then migraines will not start. 

Exercise is not guaranteed to work in every situation. Still, regular exercises have a high success rate when it comes to relieving migraines.

What Exercises Can You Do?

We recommend migraine patients to do at least a half-hour of some moderate cardiovascular exercise. Do these at least three times a week. These exercises include the following:

  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Swimming

Doing these workouts should be at a slow and steady pace, not high intensity. Avoid overexerting yourself to avoid triggering headaches. Remember to keep your heart rate below 150 BPM. 

Get a heart rate monitor. It would be a good investment and a check-up tool. If you do not have one at the moment, then practice breathing only through the nose. Doing this procedure will help you determine if you are exercising too hard. If you cannot keep a regular breathing pattern, you are overdoing it, and you need to slow down.

Additional Help for Your Migraines

Regular exercise is critical to help ward off migraines and keep you in good health. Sometimes, more help is also necessary. Various case studies about migraines found out that migraines have a connection to a misalignment of any of the top two bones of the upper cervical spine. The atlas (C1) or axis (C2) vertebrae are vulnerable to misalignment due to unpleasant events involving:

  • Whiplash
  • Sporting accidents
  • Slip and fall mishaps
  • Car accidents
  • Or any head or neck trauma or injury

A misalignment in this specific part of the neck can put pressure and stress on the brainstem, which causes it to send improper signals to the brain. This type of misalignment also hinders blood and cerebrospinal fluid flow to the brain. Any of these things can easily cause migraines to develop and get worse. 

Upper cervical chiropractors use a gentle method that encourages the misaligned bones to move back into their proper place. They never resort to popping or cracking the neck or spine. Their approach is precise and gentle and produces positive and long-term results.

A case study conducted on 101 people with chronic migraines proved that upper cervical chiropractic care works. Most of them saw improvements or elimination of their migraines in only one or two adjustments. 

Consult with the nearest upper cervical chiropractor in your place by using our page’s search function.

Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Areato schedule a consultation today.

Find an Upper Cervical Specialist In Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

Featured Articles


Montel Williams
Montel Williams

TV show host Montel Williams describes how specific chiropractic care has helped his body.

NBC's The Doctors

The TV show "The Doctors" showcased Upper Cervical Care.

CBS News/Migraine Relief

CBS News highlighted the alleviation of Migraines and Headaches.

The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.