Can Physical Overexertion Lead to Worse Migraine Episodes?

migraine and neck pain

The simple answer? Yes! It may seem a bit confusing as you may have heard that migraine is a neurological disorder, so how can physical activities and exhaustion from it affect the severity of your migraine attacks? To better understand the connection they share, please read on. This article will discuss migraine attacks and physical overexertion, how they exacerbate one another, and how you can best wrestle them to come out triumphantly healthy and pain-free. On top of all that, we will also tackle the connection between migraine and neck pain and how upper cervical chiropractic can help.


Migraine and Overexertion 101

As previously mentioned, migraine is a recurring neurological disorder that can quickly incapacitate the affected individual. The debilitating effect of this condition primarily stems from the fact that migraine and neck pain usually come together. Additionally, it triggers other unpleasant symptoms, including fatigue, impaired cognition, nausea, vertigo, and upset stomach. 

Studies have yet to uncover why migraine attacks happen in the first place. But, researchers have managed to identify triggers such as physical overexertion or burnout. Here’s a closer look at their connections:

Increased Blood Pressure

When you overwork your body, the veins and arteries expand, causing a significant blood pressure spike to keep a steady blood flow. Additionally, organs and other tissues like the brain and neck muscles require more blood and oxygen to function correctly after a physically taxing activity. This pushes the circulatory system to work twice as hard, making you more vulnerable to migraine and neck pain.

Loss of Fluid and Electrolyte 

Excessive physical activities can work up the body and increase the release of body fluids and electrolytes through sweating. Unfortunately, this can increase the risk for severe migraine headaches. According to statistics, about a third of migraineurs report dehydration as their trigger. On the one hand, studies note that electrolyte deficiency can lead to hyponatremia, which causes the brain cells to swell up.


Secrets to Enjoying Physical Activities When You’re a Migraineur

A study on exercise-triggered migraines found that thirty-eight percent of Caucasian participants experience migraine due to exercise. More than half of those ended up giving up their sport or recreational exercise to prevent migraine attacks. It is understandable but regrettable, especially as there are many things you can do to prevent yourself from suffering overexertion or migraine.

To prevent your migraine attacks from taking complete control of your life like those study participants mentioned above, we strongly recommend exploring the health and lifestyle tips we listed below:

#1. Listen to your body

Listening is an art that not many people have mastered but pays well to learn and practice, especially when it comes to your health. For example, if you are feeling under the weather, you should refrain from forcing yourself to go to the gym and carry on exercising just to show commitment. Commitment is admirable but is ill-advised if it will harm you.

In addition, listening to your body also pertains to being able to heed symptoms of your disorder. Before a major migraine episode, your body will send you psychological and physical signals. Psychological signs can include dizziness, disorientation, and irritability. On a physical level, body pains, particularly in the cervical spine area, are blatant signs of an upcoming attack, as migraine and neck pain often go hand in hand.

#2. Hydrate well

As migraine gets triggered by dehydration, it is crucial to ensure that you are well-hydrated before you start any physical activity you have in mind. Knowing that exercising takes away a lot of your body water, replenishing by drinking plenty of water or the isotonic drink of your choice before, during, and after your training, as this can prevent a migraine attack.

migraine and neck pain






#3. Fuel up

Exercise can decrease your blood sugar level, a no-no when suffering from migraine. You can prevent triggering your migraine by eating before you work out so as to give your body what it needs to complete your exercise routine. We suggest having a meal within one to four hours before exercise. Additionally, you should take advantage of pre-workout food products

#4. Stretch

Before engaging in physical activities, it is essential to do some warm-up exercises to stretch your muscles properly before the heavy routines. And from there, you gradually raise the intensity of your workout to your heart’s content.

Suppose you set out straight to your usual routines. In that case, you risk straining your muscles and encouraging the tandem attack of migraine and neck pain or whole-body exhaustion. 

When you complete your routine, doing cool-down exercises is just as important as your initial stretching. It lets your muscles relax and normalizes your heart rate, reducing the chances of a post-exercise migraine attack.

#5. Seek healthcare professionals

Getting started on the path to a healthier life through lifestyle changes and mindful consideration of your body and existing disorders towards it is always a positive sign and a step toward your goals. However, to cover all angles and achieve better and more balanced results, it is always advisable to seek assistance from a healthcare professional. 

You can start with an upper cervical doctor because neck pain often indicates cervical spine imbalances. Notably, case studies have found that postural problems in the uppermost part of the neck often increase the risk for chronic migraines. So with the help of careful and precise cervical spine manipulations, you might just be able to improve your migraine symptoms and get rid of the constant neck aching.


Take Away: You Can Manage Migraine and Neck Pain with Upper Cervical Care

Always remember that exercising or getting into shape should always be done at a steady pace. Doing this will allow you to prevent injuries and avoid problems such as those discussed above. Additionally, it can help you get well accustomed to the changes in your new strengths as you push through your limits. 

We hope our discussion helped you understand the importance of listening to your body and practicing exercise tips in preventing migraine and neck pain. We also hope that you explore natural and holistic remedies for migraines, such as upper cervical chiropractic. 

Learn more about this technique and get a comprehensive assessment of your cervical spine alignment by connecting with a local migraine chiropractor.


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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.