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> Headache after running – why does it appear and how to fight it?

Headache after running – why does it appear and how to fight it?

Publish date 14.07.2023

You can read it in 8 minut

Headache after running – why does it appear and how to fight it?

Everyone has certainly experienced a headache at some point. It is an unpleasant sensation that may stick with you for even a few hours. 

Have you ever felt a headache after running? It can happen to you. Why? Many reasons lead you to this state after a workout. 

Keep reading to learn “Why do I get a headache after running,” as well as how to prevent it. Learn about this, so when you return from a hard workout, you only have to fight fatigue, not a bad headache.

Headache after training – what does water have to do with it? 

So much is said about hydration. Even if you’re not an athlete, you should drink the right amount of water each day. However, some people don’t adhere to this, or simply drink too much (yes this is also possible). 

Dehydration

One of the causes of post-workout headaches is water-electrolyte imbalance. Even mild dehydration can cause you to run out of energy on the course. This is not only related to inadequate amounts of carbohydrates, which give you energy but also water. 

“But why do I get a headache when I’m dehydrated and running?”

The answer is simple. The volume of brain fluid decreases, and blood does not flow to the head – the brain does not get the nutrients it contains and generally cannot work. Because of this, you may experience a headache after a workout, which certainly won’t be pleasant. 

How to deal with dehydration? Here the matter is very simple. Just take a bottle of water with you and drink it systematically in small sips. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Drinking water regularly during your workout prevents dehydration and headaches after you finish running.

Remember to take a bottle fo water with you and drink it regularly.

Water intoxication

Did you know that you can also lead your body to water poisoning? This happens when you want to protect yourself before a workout and not get dehydrated. DON’T DO THAT! 

Why is it happening? There are too many fluids in the body – the blood volume increases and the kidneys can’t keep up with draining the excess water. Under the pressure of fluids, the brain is also unable to work normally. It is because of these reactions taking place in the body that you may feel a throbbing headache after training. 

Keep in mind that you can’t stay hydrated. You need to do it systematically during training. Then you will avoid headaches associated with overdosing or dehydration. 

What to do if you have too much fluid inside you? You can’t do much. Put off the water for a while. Wait until your kidneys can work normally and convert water into urine.

Why do I get a headache after running? – sugar drop in the body 

As you probably know, carbohydrates are a source of energy that give you the energy to do your daily activities and, of course, workout! However, by training, you use up energy and it can lead to a drop in body sugar. 

How can a sugar drop manifest itself?

Fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, disorientation, trembling limbs. You certainly don’t want to experience this – especially when you’re alone on the trail.

How do you avoid a sugar drop during a workout? The answer is very simple. Just take a energy bar with you to your workout and eat it while running. I’m not talking about very short distances, but an hour or more of running. That’s when you can feel the sugar drop. 

“Headaches after training do appear often, what to do?”

If headaches due to sugar drops appear often, then you should examine your hormones. Go to your doctor, and describe exactly what is happening and what symptoms accompany the sugar drop.

What to eat before a workout so that sugar drops don’t recur?

Before you start your workout, you should think about a meal rich in complex carbohydrates. However, remember to consume such a dish about 2-4 hours before your running session, not right before. 

What should you choose for lunch?

  • whole-grain pasta,
  • groats,
  • brown rice, 
  • muesli, 
  • whole grain bread, 
  • soybeans,
  • peas,
  • beans.

“Oh, I only have an hour left to train! What to do?”

Take it easy. If you don’t get enough time between eating a nutritious meal and your workout, you can use snacks that are rich in simple sugars. Have a sandwich – white bread with honey or jam, a banana, or granola. Such a snack will give you energy for the duration of your workout. Remember, however, that you can do an effective workout when you haven’t had a full meal. By eating only a snack, don’t set yourself up for a long workout.

Buy energy bar or make them at home. Its not hard.

Headache after running during a hot day 

I bet if you’re already an experienced runner, you’ve trained during hot weather. Did you then have a headache after training? It’s possible because hard training and extremely hot conditions can cause it. 

What can you do to relieve your suffering? The best thing to do when you get home is to treat your headache with a cold pack and rest. Preferably in a shady and cool place. 

What’s more, keep your safety in mind when running in hot weather. Choose hours when the sun is not so dangerous – early morning or late afternoon. Take a hat, sunglasses, and appropriate clothing.

Running without glasses on a sunny day and headache 

Headaches can occur not only from just running in the sun but also from looking at it. The sun’s rays are dangerous to your eyes, so if you run without glasses you can risk damaging your eyeballs. Your eyes suffer when you look at the scattered rays for a long time – you can get a headache from it. 

You especially need to be careful when you run near a lake or tall buildings – the light reflects off the roof, glass, or sheet of water and harms your eyes. If you forgot your glasses and went for a workout, rest when you return – close your eyes, and lie down comfortably with a cold compress on your face. Give yourself a rest and next time take your glasses with you. 

Running and wind – what is the result of an ear infection? 

Runners disregard weather conditions and run in all kinds of situations. Therefore, cold wind is not terrible for them. However, it can cause a headache. While running, you can sometimes get an infection. That’s why in such conditions it’s a good idea to wear a hat that covers your ears, ear protectors, or ear bands on your head. This will take care of your ears, and also prevent you from getting a headache after training for this reason.

The environment in which you run vs. a headache after running 

You can’t always run in good conditions. There is a lot of pollution, exhaust fumes, and unpleasant smells in urban areas. This can lead to headaches. In such situations, it is best to use an anti-smog mask. It will help stop pollutants from entering your airways. However, sometimes the air condition is really bad, and in such situations, it’s best to give up running outdoors. Opt for running on a treadmill in your home or at the gym.

What about areas outside the city? In the countryside, you may also encounter unpleasant odors that can cause a headache later. 

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about odors in the city or countryside. That’s why it’s a good idea to plan your route before training. In the city, check the state of the air and places where pollution is least. In the countryside, avoid places close to pastures and large farms.

Running in the forest is a good alternative for a big , crowded and polluted city.

Muscle tension and headache after running training 

I’ve mentioned many times before on this blog about the importance of proper running technique. If you do it incorrectly it can lead to headaches. 

Are you surprised? If you run with your neck bent, straining, or stretching your neck, you may experience a headache a while after your workout. Besides, maybe you have already experienced such pain through bad posture while sitting in front of the computer.

What to do in such a situation and help yourself so that the pain stops bothering you? The best thing to do is to lie down, massage the painful area, and rest. If this does not help, it is best to consult a physiotherapist. He will determine exactly what the problem is and give you the right exercises.

Headache after running – when to consult a doctor?

As you might have noticed by reading this article, a headache can occur after running and can have various causes. However, it cannot be ignored. If it appears more often then it may be related to cardiovascular or neurological diseases. Therefore, it is best to consult a doctor and rule out more serious diseases. 

There are situations in which you especially need to worry and should consult a doctor. When to do it.

  • High intensity of pain – pulsing from both sides can cause nausea, dizziness, and constant fatigue. If you have a severe headache and even painkillers do not reduce the pain, consult a doctor. 
  • The pain appeared suddenly even though you have been training for a long time – it may be a single incident (for example, you ate or drank too little). However, it is worthwhile to consult a doctor about the new symptoms. 
  • Frequent headaches – if they occur frequently after training and you are not sure what is causing them, then consult a doctor to rule out more serious illnesses.

Migraine after running 

Physical exertion can be a migraine trigger. If you know that you are bothered by migraine, you should stay under the supervision of a neurologist. Such pains are intractable and such migraine attacks can last up to 72h. It is usually severe pain around the side, unilateral.

That’s all I have for you in this article. As you can see, the causes of headaches after training can be several. I will list them again:

  • dehydration, 
  • water intoxication,
  • sugar drop in your body, 
  • running on a hot day, 
  • running without sunglasses when it’s hot, 
  • ear infection caused by cold wind while running, 
  • unfriendly environment, 
  • muscle tension due to improper running posture. 

This is such a brief reminder. Remember that if your headaches are bothersome you should consult a doctor. Such symptoms cannot be ignored.

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