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Headaches while cycling

m.eliza2010-12-13 08:23:58 +0000 #1
Hi. I'm new to the forums and this is my first post. Just thought I'd ask a quick question and see if anyone has experienced the same thing or has any good advice.

I was a mountain biker for a while and recently converted to the roads. I used to get headaches all the time mountain biking where every obstacle I went over was like a jackhammer to the brain. I've always had headaches since I was a kid, so I'm not worried about any new medical issues, but they come much more frequently while I'm riding. I always assumed that they were being brought on by the bumpiness of the mountain rides. Today I did 14 miles on my road bike and around mile 8 my head started to throb again. I've considered dehydration and heat to be factors in the past, but today I made sure I was taking in more water than necessary. It was pretty warm, though (high 80s). I'm pretty sure it's not a helmet issue since the headaches continue long after I'm out of the saddle (and I worry that loosening it any more would make it ineffective). It's gotten to the point where I sometimes take painkillers before getting on the bike as a preventative measure, but I worry this isn't healthy.

Has anyone else had this problem? Any ideas?


shootingstar2010-12-13 08:37:14 +0000 #2
Now that you switched from mtb to road cycling, are you riding a different bike for road?

Still, that doesn't sound healthy or right if it's a consistent problem.

Should discuss this with your doctor. Even have your head further examined.

By the way: Have you ever fallen off your bike where your helmeted head hit an object? Presumably you know that even a mild hit on the head, can be a cause for concern/ further monitoring. It will depend velocity that you hit your head, angle, etc.

Do you exercise off-bike, to relax your back and neck muscles from tension..which could happen if one rides a long time/doesn't relax body when cycling, etc.? Some people do get tension headaches from this too.
bluebug322010-12-13 09:05:22 +0000 #3
Welcome to TE! I suffered from headaches for many many years. After seeing a round of specialists, it was determined that mine were tension headaches, and I had them all the time. I still get them occasionally. Being married to a chiropractor is a perk because when my neck is out of alignment, this often leads to a headache.

You can do your own biofeedback of sorts while you ride. Are you tensing your shoulders or craning your neck for a long period of time? If you have chronic headaches, unconsciously tightening your neck muscles or raising your shoulders might feel natural, so it's difficult to tell that you're in this unhealthy position. I know that whenever I mountain bike (the pulling up action from my shoulders) or lift weights for my shoulders, that I'll no doubt develop a headache. In the shortterm, I try to ease into these activities or do some light strength training to prepare my shoulders. In the longterm, a combination or cranial sacral treatments, chiropractic, cognitive therapy, and regular exercise, helped me finally break this chronic cycle of tension headaches.
jessmarimba2010-12-13 09:25:38 +0000 #4
Do you usually ride when it's really sunny? (I mean, duh, who chooses to usually ride in the rain...)

Flashing light is a migraine trigger for me and I got sick driving home from school every day for months before we figured out that it was the angle of the sun through the trees in the afternoon.

Or I would second the tension idea. What is your frame made of? Do you feel pain anywhere else (wrists, back, ...)?
alimey2010-12-13 09:31:10 +0000 #5
A couple of thoughts - it might be neck angle - that's what gives me a headache (esp. on my roadbike). First get your position checked - if you are too stretched out, you will have to hold your neck at too sharp an angle. Next, if you are riding with a helmet w/ a peak, take it off (the peak that is) - as it can cause you to crane your neck. Next - if you ride in prescription glasses consider having some sport glasses made esp. for cycling (they grind the focal area towards the top of the lens - also make sure they sit up high enough. Also you might want to consider treating yourself to a really light helmet & don't overdo the tightness.
SheFly2010-12-13 10:51:16 +0000 #6
Also check your helmet. I was getting the worst headaches riding for awhile and couldn't figure out why. It turned out that I had my helmet adjust too tightly, and that was causing my headache! Like you, I hadn't really thought about it since I was a headache sufferer anyway, but loosening the tension in my helmet has worked wonders!

SheFly
badger2010-12-13 09:58:56 +0000 #7
All the suggestions here are great.

I second seeking out professionals like chiropractors, cranial sacral massage therapists, and acupuncturist.

Are you getting close to that time of the month? I regularly get hormonal migraines, and find that when I have a particularly hard workout, it triggers it or makes it much worse.

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