Hello everyone
I was wondering, does anyone have any experience of migraines after running, and more specifically how to minimise them?
I have been running (at a VERY amateur level) for around 12 years, training between 2 and 5 times a week at distances of between 2 and 8 miles each outing. Around five years ago I started to get migraine attacks after faster, more strenuous sessions, so I took the speed and intensity down but still kept getting the migraines. I have tried to resolve it with various things including longer cool-downs, yoga stretches, good hydration, sports drinks to replace electrolytes and eating during / directly after runs to keep blood sugar levels steady. Incorporating the techniques in The Cool Impossible has been so helpful and let me run more than a couple of miles. But still if I go further than 4-5 miles the migraines seem to trouble me.
Does this affect anyone else in the community, and have you found any other ways to control it? I would so love to run longer distances and improve as a trail runner.
Thanks so much,

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Hi Amy,

I don't wish to start off sounding pedantic but can you please clarify 'migraine' true  migraines include vomiting, visual disturbance and often times hospitalisation and heavy medication is the only remedy.  If running is causing this kind of impact I would suggest that you should see your doctor and start some serious inquiry into the situation.

If you are experiencing really awful headaches after a run AND  you have cleared issues relating to your cardio vascular health etc then it is potentially a functional/structural issue.  Avenues of inquiry would be 1. Breathing 2. Posture a) skeletal misalignment b) muscle function - may I suggest that you research your local area for running focused Physio Therapy, Exercise Physiology that have studied www.functionalmovement.com .

It could have a lot to do with your posture and recruitment patterns as you fatigue.  The upper body - Upper Trapezius, Scalenes, SCM, Splenius group and co. have a propensity for firing up trigger points that cause horrible headaches.  It is also possible that the source is further down the kinetic chain and a mis-alignment of the pelvis is creating torsion that manifests as headaches.

I think that the fact that you have been able to improve your distance through changes made to your running technique ie. posture is a good clue that there is a functional involvement.  The really good news about that is that any break throughs made in that arena will have a really positive effect on your running.

Good luck and if you feel like it I'd be keen to hear updates.  As an RMT with a passion for running I love to dive deep into this kind of stuff - I'll ask around my clients and see if any of them have had the same experience or know some one who has.



Hello Alison

Thanks very much for your reply with so much useful information.

In answer to your question, I am troubled by classic migraine - ie with aura in the form of visual disturbances, nausea and difficulty speaking, followed (most of the time, but recently not always) by headache. I saw my doctor about it before and after I became aware that running was a trigger, and although I was prescribed medication for some time I am now fortunate to be able to manage it in other ways although I do know that other people are very much more seriously affected. I have had cardio vascular checks and all seems to be fine there.

It's very interesting you mention the functional/structural lines of enquiry and I will definitely explore these. I have been wondering about muscular/skeletal issues and I have experimented in the past with different sports bras as I could feel certain ones put pressure on specific points of my upper body and felt this was likely to be a contributing factor. Time to move on from experimenting myself and get some proper advice from a
Physiotherapist, I think!

I really appreciate you taking the time to reply and for your advice. I'm encouraged by your positivity, so thank you! I will keep in touch with any updates.

Best wishes

Sounds like you are on the right track to figuring things out! Might mention seeing an accupuncturist since you mention pressure points as possible triggers. They may be able to help identify trigger points that you might be able to use to prevent and/or treat the migraines. Your migraines sound very vascular which is common. Migraines also tend to occur post stress...We in the medical community (I am a nurse practitioner) think there may be a component of vasodilation in the vessels of the brain as a trigger, it puts a stretch on the nerves which may be the trigger for pain. When you stop running, vasodilatation occurs in the small vessels in the scalp and brain and this pressure may be triggering. Some things you can try to prevent....Make sure you go in well hydrated and drink if you need to to stay hydrated during your run. Warm up slowly and ease into your run (sounds like you already do this). Taking a medication like ibuprofen before your longer runs or hotter runs may also prevent. If you know which types of runs trigger, then pre medicate. In general exercise can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, so keep running! It is important that you have these headaches evaluated to make sure there is not a serious cause, but it sounds like you have already done that as well.  Best wishes from a fellow migraneur!

Many thanks Lori, great advice and very much appreciated!
Best wishes to you, too.


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