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Exercise Induced Headache

About Exercise-induced Headache

What Is An Exercise-induced Headache?

Exercise-induced headache, also known as exertional headache, is a type of headache that occurs during or after physical exercise or strenuous activities. It is typically a short-lived headache that occurs as a result of increased blood flow and pressure within the blood vessels of the head during exercise. While the exact cause of exercise-induced headache is not fully understood, it is believed to involve the dilation and constriction of blood vessels in the brain.

Exercise-induced Headache Diagnosis

How Do We Diagnose An Exercise-induced Headache?

To diagnose exercise-induced headache, healthcare professionals consider the individual’s medical history, symptoms, and the relationship between headaches and exercise. The diagnostic process may involve physical examination, particularly of the upper neck as well as possible trauma, exercise history and headache patterns.

Exercise-induced Headache Symptoms

Linked to exercise

Onset during or after exercise

Head pain

Bilateral or one-sided pain

Throbbing or pulsating pain

Usually short-lived, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours

Mild to moderate intensity


Treating Exercise-induce Headache With The Watson Headache® Approach

Exercise-induced Headache Treatment

The treatment of exercise-induced headache focuses on managing symptoms and preventing future episodes. A Headache Practitioner may adjust exercise programs by modifying the intensity or duration of physical activity to help prevent or reduce the occurrence of headaches. Gradually building up exercise tolerance and incorporating warm-up and cool-down periods can be beneficial.

Assessment of the upper neck by a skilled Watson Headache® Practitioner can determine a link to headache presentations and neck dysfunction. With appropriate treatment of the upper neck using the Watson Headache® Approach, exercise-induced headache can settle quickly.


For further information on Exercise Induced Headaches, read our blog on Understanding triggers and 5 reasons your neck is involved.

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