Headaches after running

Headaches after running

If you’re a runner, there’s a chance you’ve crossed the finish line only to be greeted by an unwelcome companion: a pounding headache. Such post-run headaches can dampen the euphoria of your achievement and leave you searching for relief instead of reveling in success.

As someone who has navigated through many miles and experienced this issue firsthand, I understand how crucial it is to address these head pains that can turn a run from exhilarating to exhausting.

Understanding why your head rebels after hitting the pavement is key to keeping those pesky headaches at bay. This article draws on my experience and research, aiming to arm you with knowledge about exercise-induced headaches—the types, causes, prevention strategies—and when it might be more than just about recovery shakes or cool-down stretches.

Knowledge is power; let’s use it to outrun those headaches! Keep reading for valuable tips that could change your running game for good.

Types of Headaches Associated with Exercise

Primary exercise headaches occur during or after sustained, strenuous exercise, and can be triggered by running. Secondary exercise headaches are caused by an underlying health issue such as sinus infection or head injury.

Primary exercise headaches

Some runners get headaches after a long run. These headaches feel strong and can happen during or right after exercise. Doctors call them primary exercise headaches. They are not caused by another illness.

It’s like your head is telling you that something about the way you exercised was too much for it.

If your headache starts soon after you work out, it might be one of these “primary” types. Exercise makes your blood vessels in the brain expand. This can cause pain on both sides of your head.

The good news is they usually don’t last long, maybe a few hours or at most a couple of days.

Secondary exercise headaches

Secondary exercise headaches are a type of headache that can occur after strenuous physical activity, like running. These headaches are different from primary exercise headaches and can be caused by other underlying conditions such as dehydration, heat exposure, or low blood sugar.

If you experience these types of headaches after your run, it’s important to pay attention to the duration and severity of the pain, as well as any accompanying symptoms. Seeking medical attention is crucial if the headaches persist or worsen, so consulting a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment is essential in managing secondary exercise headaches effectively.

Remember that addressing the causes of these headaches, such as staying hydrated and protecting yourself from the sun during runs, can help prevent them in the future.

Possible Causes of Headaches after Running

Dehydration, sun and heat exposure, low blood sugar, and improper form are some possible causes of headaches after running. It’s important to address these factors in order to prevent and manage exercise-induced headaches.


Dehydration can lead to headaches after running, so it’s crucial to drink enough water before, during, and after your run. When you’re dehydrated, your body doesn’t have enough fluid to function properly.

This can cause your blood pressure to drop and reduce the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain, leading to a headache. To prevent dehydration headaches, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day—not just when you’re thirsty—and especially before and after running in hot weather or for long distances.

Keep an eye out for signs of dehydration like dark urine or feeling excessively thirsty. It’s also important to replenish electrolytes lost through sweating by drinking sports drinks or eating foods rich in potassium and sodium.

Sun and heat exposure

Running in the sun can lead to headaches. Protect yourself by wearing a hat and using sunscreen. The heat can cause dehydration, so drink plenty of water before and after your run.

Low blood sugar

Low blood sugar can cause headaches after running. When your body doesn’t have enough sugar for energy, it can lead to a headache. To prevent this, make sure to eat a balanced meal or snack before your run.

Include healthy carbohydrates like whole grains or fruits to keep your blood sugar stable. Additionally, carry a small snack with you in case you start feeling lightheaded during your run.

Remembering to fuel your body properly is crucial in preventing low blood sugar and the headaches that come with it after running. It’s also important to stay hydrated and maintain electrolyte balance while exercising.

Improper form

When running with improper form, it can put extra strain on your body, including your neck and shoulders. This strain can lead to tension headaches after your workout. To prevent this, focus on maintaining good posture with a straight back and relaxed shoulders while running.

Also, consider getting a professional trainer to help you improve your form and reduce the risk of developing exercise-induced headaches due to improper running technique.

Prevention and Management

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your run, protect yourself from the sun with a hat or sunscreen, take breaks when needed, eat properly to maintain blood sugar levels, and manage electrolyte imbalance through proper nutrition – for more tips on preventing and managing headaches after running, keep reading!

Staying hydrated

To prevent headaches after running, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to headaches, so make sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your run. Water is essential for maintaining normal bodily functions and preventing the onset of headaches.

Proper hydration also helps in regulating body temperature and replenishing lost fluids from sweating during your run.

In addition to water, consuming electrolyte-rich drinks or eating fruits like watermelon can help keep you hydrated. As a runner, staying mindful of your fluid intake is key when it comes to preventing exercise-induced headaches.

Protecting from the sun

Wear a hat and sunglasses when running to shield your head and eyes from the sun. Use sunscreen on exposed skin to prevent sunburn that can cause headaches. Choose lightweight, breathable clothing that covers your skin to minimize direct sun exposure during your run.

Plan your run for early morning or late afternoon when the sun’s intensity is lower, reducing the risk of heat-related headaches. Scheduling runs in shaded areas or using a visor can also help protect you from excessive sunlight.

Remember, staying protected from the sun is crucial in preventing headaches during and after running.

Taking breaks

During a run, taking breaks is important to prevent overexertion and reduce the risk of developing exercise-induced headaches. When you feel fatigued or lightheaded, it’s essential to stop and rest for a short while before continuing your run.

Breaks give your body time to recover and help maintain proper hydration levels during exercise. By incorporating regular breaks into your running routine, you can minimize the strain on your cardiovascular system and decrease the likelihood of experiencing exertional headaches.

Additionally, taking breaks allows you to listen to your body’s signals and adjust your pace accordingly, promoting a safer and more enjoyable running experience.

Eating properly

Eating properly is essential to prevent headaches after running. Make sure to eat a balanced meal with carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats before going for a run. Fueling your body with the right nutrients can help maintain steady blood sugar levels during exercise, reducing the risk of getting a headache.

Include foods rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium in your pre-run snack or meal to support muscle function and hydration. After running, replenish your energy stores by eating a post-workout snack or meal that includes complex carbohydrates and lean proteins to aid in recovery.

Remember to avoid skipping meals before running as low blood sugar can trigger exercise-induced headaches. Incorporating nutrient-dense foods into your diet supports overall well-being and helps prevent various types of headaches associated with physical activity such as running.

Managing electrolyte imbalance

To manage electrolyte imbalance while running, it’s essential to drink fluids that contain electrolytes, like potassium and sodium. These can be found in sports drinks or coconut water.

Including these in your hydration routine will help replenish the electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise. Avoid only drinking plain water as this can further dilute the electrolytes in your body.

It’s important to maintain a balance of electrolytes to prevent headaches after running.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If your headaches persist for an extended period of time or are accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s important to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Read on to learn more about preventing and managing headaches after running.

Duration and severity of headaches

Headaches after running can vary in how long they last and how bad they feel. Some may pass quickly, while others might linger for hours. The pain can range from mild discomfort to intense throbbing.

If your headaches are severe or last a long time, it’s important to pay attention and seek medical advice.

It is essential to track the duration and severity of headaches after running as this information helps doctors determine the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment. If you experience intense or persistent headaches that don’t improve with rest or over-the-counter medication, consulting a healthcare professional is crucial to ensure proper diagnosis and management.

Other accompanying symptoms

Other accompanying symptoms during or after running that may indicate a more serious issue include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness, and vision changes. If you experience any of these symptoms along with your headache, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly to rule out any underlying health concerns related to the headaches.

If you notice these accompanying symptoms persisting or worsening over time, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Taking note of these additional signs can help in determining the cause of your headaches after running and ensure appropriate care and management.

Consulting a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment

If you experience severe or persistent headaches after running, it is crucial to seek medical attention. Your doctor can help determine the cause of your exercise-induced headaches and provide appropriate treatment.

They can also rule out any underlying health conditions that may be contributing to the problem. It’s important not to ignore recurring headaches after running, especially if they are accompanied by other symptoms such as dizziness, vision changes, or nausea.

Consulting a healthcare professional will ensure that you receive the proper diagnosis and guidance for managing or preventing these post-exercise headaches in the future.


In conclusion, managing headaches after running is achievable. By staying hydrated, protecting from the sun, and eating properly, you can prevent these headaches. These simple strategies can significantly improve your running experience and overall well-being.

Remember to listen to your body and seek medical attention if necessary. Take care of your health and keep enjoying your runs!


Why do I get headaches after running?

Headaches after running, often called jogger’s headache or exercise-induced headaches, are common and can happen because of the hard work your body does when you run.

Can running give me a migraine?

Yes, for some people, strenuous exercise like running can trigger migraines or cause severe headaches.

What’s an exertion headache and how is it linked to running?

An exertion headache is a headache that comes on after physical activity such as running or other sports-related activities.

Are my headaches from sinus problems triggered by running?

Running doesn’t directly cause sinus headaches but if you already have sinus issues, aerobic activity like jogging may make your head hurt more.

Is there a special name for headaches I get only after working out or doing sports?

Yes! Headaches that occur only after workouts or endurance activities like sports are called exercise-induced or post-exercise headaches.

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