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Thursday, August 19, 2010

I get frequent headaches after pushing myself in exercise workouts

Drawing "THE CLUSTER HEADACHE" Subti...Image via Wikipedia

As part of my training programme for the half marathon I do one large run a week.
I have been getting a bad headache afterwards, that slowly gets worse  and worse, to the point that I can't function and need to go to bed.
I understand the need to hydrate properly and take electrolytes before and after the run, as well as drink large amounts of water to try and get rid of the headache.
These headaches are quite common for me after I do any exercise that requires me to push myself. For example I did a Tri-Triathlon earlier in the year and ended up with a massive headache afterwards.
I drink about 2 litres of water most days.
I really want to sort this out as I am really enjoying the challenge of training for the half marathon, and look forward to competing.

Angela, it is possible you are over hydrating.  This will cause bloating of your tissues which includes the brain.  For most of use there is little spare space within the skull for any expansion.  This will cause a splitting headache
that will get progressively worse as the fluid is absorbed from the gut into the body.  If this progresses too far the final result can be brain death.  This is now the most common cause of death during organised runs nowadays.  I am not aware of any deaths from dehydration by contrast (Dehydration - not heat stroke).

You are drinking a lot of water by any standards - at least twice what I consume on a warm summer day and much more than in winter.  During a two hour bike ride at this time of year I might lose 300ml.  Any more and I will be peeing all the time.  While you will be pleasing the water and sports drink companies and many nutritionists who have been brainwashed by commercial interests, you only need to drink what you naturally lose during the day.  I doubt you would be exercising more intensely than me or sweating more. There is no health benefit at all from drinking that much water.

When you say you are replacing electrolytes, I doubt more than a handful like sodium and potassium are being replaced.  There are at least 20 minerals and then there are all the water soluble vitamins that are being flushed out by the deluge.  The constant flushing of the gut dilutes the stomach acid and digestive enzymes.  Along with this the digestive bacteria in the gut will be having a hard time surviving the constant tsunamis.   This will lead to poor digestion and a consequent state of exhaustion due to malnutrition.  This is common among women and athletes in general.  You can see examples in the many articles I have published about the Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis.

The best course of action is to drink according to thirst (Yes, thirst is an effective measure of hydration - or lack of).  If you are unsure of how much to drink then weigh yourself before a run and then again after.  A kilo lost is a liter of water to be replaced - that and a little more.

You might want to get some Himalayan Sea Salt here and liberally salt all your food while avoiding processed salt.  This will help ensure your electrolytes are restored, more or less.  You can go a step further with a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis.   If this does not reduce the incidence and severity of your headaches, write me again.
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Wayne said...

I"d beg to differ on one point about hydration, when exercising on a hot day for a lengthy period of time, I would say steady hydration will help reduce performance drop off, you can easily go through half a litre of water per hour. in some conditions a liter an hour, cycling can be deceptive, while not necessarily as intense as running there is a greater dehydrating effect from the greater windspeed from the faster speed. You dont have to go mad on the water consumption but steady consumption is good for you. using water bladders has proven more effective than using drink bottles.
users of water bladders usually are able to drink easily and sip the water as the water gets dispenssed in a tube held close to the mouht,
users of water bottles drink more infrequently, guloping down more wter when they do drink, more of the water is wasted and passes straight into the bladder.

Gary Moller said...

Thanks for the advice Wayne. I'll add a few elaborations...

How much to drink depends on many factors including the mass of the individual, the level of intensity, heat acclimatisation, humidity, wind, solar radiation and clothing.

Weighing before and after exercise is extremely good value for getting a feel for how much to drink during and after exercise.

Thirst is a very sensitive measure of hydration that has evolved over millions of years. We have simply forgotten to listen to the subtle signals. Like so many things, we tune out thirst to our peril. A successful athlete is one who is in tune with his/her body.

I do not use bladders because of the extra weight whcih can in itself lead to dehydration due to the extra effort carrying all that water. In NZ a drink bottle will usually suffice unless up on ridgelines for hours. There is water in most places that one rides a bike, including service stations and most of our high country streams (excluding those running through farmland)are drinkable.

Just one other thing about bladders: If they are filled with sugar sports drinks then the constant sipping will contribute to rampant tooth decay and gum disease. Bladders are best used for sipping plain water.

Wayne said...

dont expect to weigh the same after excercise even if you have hydrated well. as you use up stored body sugar, half the water your body needs to burn the sugar for energy is already held in solution with the stored sugar.
so it get a bit fiddly working out how much weight loss is acceptable, you will generally be lower in sugar and stored water so your weight will be less even with adequate hydration. fat loss is minimal in exercise compared to weight loss from burned sugar stored (glycogen)
dont quote be but you could end up a kilo lighter without being dehydrated after three hours of hours running or steep moutnain biking for instance, the best indicator of hydration is the colour of your urine, if its pale yellow or transparent you're hydrated enough, if you ahvent peed for several hours after exercise , get drinking until you do pass urine.

Wayne said...

apologies, I"m incorrect about fat metabolism
while a well trained athlete will burn around maybe 20 to 30 grams of fat an hour, 80% of a fat cell is water, so five times the total weight of fat burnt will also be lost.
although another four times the weight of fat burned will be required in water ie another 80ml of water per hour to burn 20 garms of fat would need to be ingested to compensate for water needed to burn the fat.
so between a two hundred and three hundred grams of weight could be lost per hour due to burning of fat. with the bulk of the weight lost having nothing to do with dehydration.