Migraines and exercise

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I have been a migraine sufferer for over 40 years. I have tried many different types of preventative meds and have decided this is something I've got to live with.

At the beginning of this year I started to do the couch to 5k where you walk a bit and then run a bit and gradually increase the running. All was going great, up to running for 5mins, walking, running for 10, walking, running for 5. I'm really enjoying it but recently the moment I start to run, I get a headache which then develops into a full blown migraine. Last weekend I had a migraine for 2 and half days. I have been to my GP, had my blood pressure checked and all is normal. She has changed my medication to pregabalin. I've been out again this morning, walked for 5 mins and then started to run and again the headache started again. Anyone else experienced this and if so what can I do? Thanks.

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13 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Kath,

    Yes, I do often, not every time though.  But it is quite common so dont despair.  What dosage of Pregabalin are you on?  You can go up to 300mg twice a day to control the migraines.

    Good luck and take care.

    Let us know how you get on

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    • Posted

      Starting off on 25mg twice a day to see how I get on, got to report back to GP in a month.
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    • Posted

      yes, you are on quite a low dose, so you can go higher to get relief.  I try to exercise as much as I can as I know its good for me, but you are right the headaches  after are so bad at times.  A dose of Sumatriptan usually sees it off.  I use a TENS machine on my neck and shoulders, this helps too
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    • Posted

      Yes, sumatriptan works really well for me too but at the moment we trying to run three times a week and if I have to take it after every run, I may also need to take it on other days and then I'm going to be taking too much.

      Do you continue to exercise if you get the start of a migraine? I find once it starts I have to stop running and just walk but that doesn't stop the migraine from developing.

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    • Posted

      when I am actually running or at the gym, I find I can work through it, then as soon as I stop thats when it hits me.  I know I take too much Sumatriptan but I have told my Neurologist this and they dont seem to have too much of a problem with it.  They know my cluster headaches sometimes wake me during the night and I use an injection of Sumatriptan in this case, this is why I started taking Nortriptyline again to try and reduce the amount of Sumatriptan. 
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    • Posted

      How do you find the Nortriptyline? I tried it about 4 years ago and it didn't seem to make much difference. The pregabalin is sort of the last resort recommended by my neurologist but I did wonder that if this doesn't work that I might try the Nortriptyline again. So you think that I should just continue running, the thing is my headache start at the very beginning before I've even gone any distance, so makes it difficult.

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    • Posted

      dont give up on the Pregabalin too easily Kath, its worked well for me and you are on a very low dose still.  You can have both Nortriptyline and Pregablin, so you still have some scope yet.  Yes thats tough if the migraine comes on before you have gone far, but if you can try to carry on and finish your run then get some Sumatriptan and if your neck hurts a lot too, I suggest the TENS machine as it helps me.

      Let us know how you get on Kath please, seems we are in a similar boat.  I am keen to do more exercise as its in my blood, but the headaches do restrict me sometimes.

      Take care and best wishes

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    • Posted

      Thanks for that, I'll let you know how I get on. I've signed up for the Race for Life and would love to be able to run it.

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    • Posted

      Keep training Kath and you will amaze yourself.  You can work round your headache one way or another.  I have an ankle injury and its frustrating for me I cant run at the moment else I would be training for 10k as this was always my passion.  But thats life, some how you just have to get on with it and find a way round issues.  We WILL do it Kath I'm sure!  Dont forget your rest as well as your training though and good luck

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  • Posted

    Hi Kath

    Can you just walk fast instead of running which jogs (shakes your brain) your head?

    just a thought.....

    wendy

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    • Posted

      Hi Wendy, yes, I could just walk but I have been doing it with a group and felt I was doing so well and I would love to be able to run it. It also has only started to happen over the last few weeks.
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  • Posted

    That really sucks. Could be tension in your neck or neck issues causing it. I recently started the same walk/run build up. I could run for years because of a bad neck. Now it’s going okay. But I’m the queen of posture & breathing while I run. It sucks cause they tell you to get exercise then - migraine! Yoga killed me. Loved it but was bad for headaches, migraines & neck pain

    I do think there is some exercise induced migraines, hopefully it will go away for you. It’s so hard having another thing robbed from your life. Maybe take it a bit slower. Go back to more walking. 

    Good luck

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    • Posted

      Thanks Karen, the pregabalin I'm on seem to be giving me more headaches in the morning, not migraines, strange prickerly sensation in back of the head, so I'm taking a couple of paracetamol extra most morning. Yesterday, I took two and then met up with my group for a run. I managed 6mins running, 3mins walking, 14mins running, 3mins walking and 6mins running. I did have the feel of a migraine starting in the left-hand side of my head but fortunately it didn't develop.

      My GP wants me to try the pregabalin for a month, so I don't know how I'm going to get on but I am enjoying the running so don't particularly want to give it up. I'll keep you posted.

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