Walking for Migraine: Virtually and Physically

How can counterintuitive behaviors help reduce migraine severity?

Which will freeze faster, boiling water or room temperature water? The answer would seem to be the room temp water, right? Well, it turns out that the boiling water will freeze more quickly due to something called the Mpemba effect. Some things are counterintuitive so we often don’t believe they are true.

Exercise effects on migraine

Exercise and migraine seems to be counterintuitive too, right? After all, your energy level is reduced so who can think about moving your body? The odd thing is, that moving may be just what the body is asking for and science has shown this to be true.1

In one study, researchers found that exercise enhanced the efficacy of amitriptyline, a medicine used for migraine prevention.2 Another study looked at why exercise reduces migraine intensity and concluded that the pain modulatory systems that are likely to be engaged by exercise.3

The power of visualization

How can you exercise when you feel lousy all the time? The answer may be, slow and steady. The idea is not to begin a running routine on day one. However, you could begin by walking around the block one time and return to the safety of your home immediately following this attempt. Or you may begin with a visualization. In one study soccer players who visualized their moves had better outcomes and confidence during games.4

As you build up to once around the block, it may then be useful to visualize yourself going twice around the block before actually doing so. Beginning any new routine can seem daunting yet with practice, you can achieve this goal. June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (AHAM), and is a perfect time to begin your walking practice. You can join others in the Miles for Migraine June virtual challenge where you can be inspired to join a community of like- minded people. If walking is not for you, try some gentle yoga stretches on the chair.

Migraine warriors and advocacy

In the video below, one migraine warrior from our community who has chronic migraine has adapted her life to include a walking program. In addition to virtually participating, there are “quiet tents” set up to provide a reprieve from the Miles for Migraine event.

As you embark on this new routine, not only will you be helping yourself physically, you will also be advocating for yourself and showing the public that migraine is a severe, disabling neurological disease that deserves the same attention as other disabling diseases.

To see all the Miles for Migraine run and walk series, click here.

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