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Pains in the brain.

Good news, bad news--according to a study from West Virginia University, runners may suffer a higher proportion of migraine headaches than the general population, 36% versus 17%. However, the frequency and severity of headaches of all types are improved by running. Findings were based on research with 472 male and female distance runners.

You should never ignore severe headaches or headaches associated with other problems like visual disturbances or neurological symptoms--severe headaches require medical attention. However, there is a benign category of headache that involves exertion. Most exertional headaches are caused by temporary changes associated with exertion and disappear with rest and recovery. Blood pressure can rise with exertion, vascular pressure can build during the maximum effort involved in activities like rock climbing or weight lifting, and headaches can arise from neck strain.

If you get exertional headaches, clearly associated with exercise, there may be strategies that can correct the problem and free you of the pain. Keep a record of the circumstances, timing, weather, air quality, food intake, stress level, exercise intensity and duration of exercise, along with the occurrence, severity, and quality of headaches, over a period of time. Look for patterns and try to modify your routine as associations are made. All things being equal, running without a headache is better than running with one. Solve the problem and your performance is likely to improve.

(West Virginia Medical Journal, 1999, Vol. 95, No. 2, pp. 7-79)
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Title Annotation:runners and migraines
Publication:Running & FitNews
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2000
Previous Article:Calling all ultra runners.
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