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Scott’s Story – Exercise induced Migraines


I am a 29yo male who has suffers with exercise (exertion) induced migraines. I have suffered from my early teens and it started after playing games of football and slowly got worse the older I have got.

I have tried several different types of medication and have had MRI scans but nothing has worked for me. For the last 5 years I have been unable to go for a 10 minute run without spending the next two days in bed.

It finally got to the point for me to stop taking daily medication when my son was conceived, I wasn’t happy with the side effects of Propranolol and decided that its easier to give up on exercise and stop the medication than to continue. For the next 3 years I had no medication and no exercise, which for a previously active person was tough.

This brings me to the last 5 months. 3 years out with no exercise, excess weight gained and generally not very good fitness levels. I joined a gym at work and started a fitness program for myself, nothing strenuous but some good building blocks. I found that swimming was a really good way for me to exercise without putting too much stress on my body and I never suffered a migraine after. I started a yoga class at the gym (Ashtanga) which really helped me distress mentally and physically (I highly recommend, the stretching and breathing greatly helped me). I then slowly started to incorporate a weights regime, starting low and slow and for most of the time I didn’t get a migraine (if I pushed too hard, it hit me like a train).

I managed to find a balance, still now I am unable to run which is upsetting as its the only thing I cannot do as yet. I have just started seeing a chiropractor (2 sessions in) and my back, shoulders and neck are extremely tight which may be a big contributing factor ( I will update after more sessions).

I am happy, healthier than I have been in a good few years and glad that I have found this balance. Its still not easy and I always have to have dissolvable paracetomol on hand but its a start.

Thank you for reading

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • ScottChapman author
    3 months ago

    Update time – so it has been 5 months since i first saw a chiropractor and thought it was time for an update.

    Previously i was slowly working up a workout routine which didnt include any running (as this would 100% always trigger a migraine) but after numerous sessions my chiropractor, she gave me the confidence to put those trainers on once again and grace the hallow tarmac of my village.

    Well it’s been just over a month and i am consistantly running 5k 2/3 times a week with not a single migraine! I cant explain how amazing this is to me, i couldnt run 5 minutes without being in bed for 2 days.

    I am fittest that I have been since my teens and I have been able to fall in love with running again (my goal is a 10k run within the next 6 months).

    I can’t thank my chiropractor enough for what she has been able to give back to me.

    For any interested in what a session with her was like i will explain below but thank you for reading.


    To start my chiropractor isnt an aggressive back cracking kind which i know can put people off, she focuses more on posture and muscle manipulation.

    My typical session starts with an alignment test making sure that my spin is straight, followed by a pelvis stretch, once she is happy that my core is correctly posistioned she starts to manipulate my shoulders, neck and upper back. This is were she has determined that my issues have steamed from as the muscles and tendants were so tight in my shoulders/neck that they were pulling at the base of my skull. After working on manipulating my muscles and tendants for about 20/25 minutes its time to end the session.

    If any body out there was suffering like I did for years and exhausted medical avenues (with no serious condotions being found) i cant recommend this enough. I have also tried accupunture recentely which is a different experience.

    Bring on the 10k!!

  • kb
    8 months ago

    Hi Scott,

    I wanted to ask how your blood pressure is? It’s just that my daughter was never able to run at school without vomiting and getting a migraine. It was determined she actually had low blood pressure and that is why she was suffering like that. Just a thought. Take care.

  • Holly Baddour moderator
    8 months ago

    Dear Scott-

    Thank you so much for sharing your ongoing journey of how to incorporate exercise into your life when up against the limitation of exercise-induced migraine attacks. It is a very common trigger so your story will be of use for many of those in our community.

    I especially like the honest way you illustrate that it is a nonlinear journey – not a task that gets checked off, but one that has to be continually revisited as our bodies evolve.

    The balance can be elusive- and it’s extremely inspiring to hear a story of a migraineur striving for, and prioritizing it, despite many obstacles- and emerging happier and more healthy for the journey.

    Grateful for your story! Thank you!

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