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Exercise and Chronic Migraine

What exercises have you found helpful that don’t trigger migraines ? Yoga puts too much stress on my shoulders and neck. I love Pilates, but again, it’s hard on my neck and shoulders and causes migraines. Anything with “jossling” sets me off. Is walking my only option?

  1. - This is a classic challenge for those of us living with chronic migraine. Frequently exercise that raises the heart rate can be triggering. And yes, yoga can be difficult for the strain on shoulders and neck- and for the way blood rushes to our heads when we are in downward dog. I have taken to be a daily walker which I love and does worlds for my emotional health because of the fresh air and gentle movement. But it is certainly not strenuous. I found a mode of exercise called "essentrics" - they offer online classes you can take on your schedule. It's kind of a combination of tai-chi, pilates, yoga, and modern dance. Here's more information about that along with some community members' ideas about exercise with migraine: Hope this helps! You are not alone in this. Warmly - Holly - team

    1. Hey, Dana. We have SO many articles about exercise, and I'll share a link to the archives so you can see if anything in there sparks a new idea for you. But first, since it sounds like you have a lot of neck issues (correct me if I'm wrong!), I've always loved this article and video from an occupational therapist who demonstrates a series of stretches that are good for the neck. Of course, it's not a workout, but you might find that they feel good and don't trigger an attack.

      And as promised, here is our archive link to exercise-focused pieces.

      Keep in mind that walking and other forms of cardio are great workouts by themselves -- even in short intervals of 10 minutes. What about slow, careful weight training? Have you ever tried that or is it too intense?

      I give you a lot of credit for continuing to pursue fitness with migraine. Motivation can be tough, even without it! Keep exploring. -Melissa, migraine team

      1. I can so relate to your question. I enjoy exercising, but have to be careful not to over stress my neck and shoulders. The most important thing I found, regardless of which exercise that you do is to have good form, and to always be mindful of keeping the shoulders relaxed. I often try to focus on creating lots of length between my ears and shoulders - so basically elongating my neck. That said, I really enjoy barre workouts because they give me a good workout but also focus on light weights which I really appreciate. You may be able to check out some classes online or see if there's a barre studio in your area. Some gyms offer barre classes as well. Let me know if you try one out.

        Alene, Team Memeber

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