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

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View Comments (2)
  • kb
    4 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
    4 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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