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Squat Headaches (Benign Extertional?)

Training discussion on Squat Headaches (Benign Extertional?), within the Bodybuilding Forum; I have a big problem here I was hoping some of you may be familiar with. I am getting major ...


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Old 09-06-2005, 02:10 PM   #1
EricT
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Default Squat Headaches (Benign Extertional?)

I have a big problem here I was hoping some of you may be familiar with.

I am getting major headaches during squats, always about halfway thru my last set. I am able to finish the set thru a haze of intense pain, ramping up in intensity with each rep.

Once I put down the barbell the pain brings me to my knees and is accompanied by nausea and sometimes blurry vision.

Did some research and found out these fit the profile of exertional headaches, me being on of the people where the headache is of migraine quality. Still hurts for days afterwards, too.

Went my PCP, who was way concerned, had heard of benign exertional headaches, exertional headaches, etc. but thought they were usually minor headaches brought on by things like coughing.

Next to a neurologist. Neurological exam normal. Blood pressure normal. Head CT normal. He said the headaches may resolve on their on, but I should give up squats.

On further research, have seen numerous theories and opinions, the most prevalent having to do with the very rapid increase in blood pressure that can happen on heavy squats.

I have heard you should drink some plain dextrose water before your workout. No affect on the headaches, but made me sluggish as hell (knew I couldn't handle plain dextrose that way).

Go lighter. Going a little lighter had no affect. Going a lot lighter seems a waste of time. IMO, may as well give up squats for all the good that's gonna do.

Pay attention to your breathing. That's an obvious one. My breathing seems fine to me, and I certainly avoid straining. Incidentally, the first time I had a headache like this was during the bench press, where I suddenly found myself holding my breath and straining. The headache was bad, but it wasn't as bad as the ones I get on squats. I dismissed that first one, since I thought the cause was obvious, but the squat headaches seem to be unrelated to my breathing.

I cannot bring myself to give up squats. I think they are paramount for me. I'm going to experiment a little and see if I can isolate a specific factor that I could change. I might increase my rest periods between sets a little, see if I can give my body a chance to compensate. But I don't know.

If anyone has had any experience with this or has any useful info, I would appreciate it. I still feel an ache from my last squat routine.
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Old 09-06-2005, 02:42 PM   #2
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Not sure if this can help but something almost like this happened before here

http://www.bodybuilding.net/index.php?referrerid=190
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Old 09-06-2005, 02:59 PM   #3
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i know you already mentioned that it maybe be breathing but im almost positively sure that its breathing i dont think its any problems with your head or anything but sometimes when i concentrate to much during an exercise i forget to breath never happened during squats but during benching its happened before but not for a little while since now i make sure to pay attention to my breathing

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Old 09-06-2005, 03:21 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick replies.
WantingMuscle, that link didn't work but I did a search and couldn't find anything that seemed related. Can you elaborate? I'll keep trying, anyway. Thanx very much.

Verbatim, I will definitely re-focus on my breathing. Maybe my breathing is seizing during a certain percentage of the movement where I don't notice it. The intensity I am using on squats now is certainly more than I have ever done, requiring more concentration - it's probably no coincidence that the headaches are happening now.

I appreciate it, guys.
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Old 09-07-2005, 11:41 AM   #5
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Ok sorry bout before wrong address. Try this one http://www.bodybuilding.net/showthre...highlight=pain
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Old 09-07-2005, 02:43 PM   #6
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Yes, sir, that sounds real similar. Thanx.
No evidence of a popped blood vessel but that thread gives me a lot to go on. Sounds like I should be able to work thru this.
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:45 PM   #7
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Hey guys, hate to resurrect a thread from the dead, but I just experienced this problem for the first time yesterday. I've been lifting for quite some time now, very seriously for the past year or two, and I've never had this happen.

Yesterday, I was at the gym solo, since my gym partner is attending night classes, and instead of risking looking like a fool trapped under the free bar due to no spot, I decided to bench on the Hammer Strength iso flat bench. Did a warm up set, heavy first set, slightly heavier second set, and by time I hit my 9th rep I wanted to die. The pain was so sudden to the base of my head on the right side I almost passed out! So, I came home took some tylenol with green tea (the caffeine accelerates the delivery on me) and it did nothing. I tried to sleep through it and couldn't, so I eventually broke down and took some Advil, even though I don't like Ibuprofen due to its anti-inflammitory properties having an adverse affect on my muscle swell. That seemed to do the trick and I was able to get some sleep.

Now, today, I'm feeling better. I go to work, get some decent food in me, take a handful of vitamins, get a good crack of the neck, and I'm feeling like I'll give it a shot again. I drink my No-Xplode shake, head to the gym, jump on the Hammer iso again, and do my warmup set making sure to watch my breathing very carefully. Everything seems good, so I load up a heavy first set, get to number 5, and bam, I want to die again. So here I am now, at home, feeling very discouraged, with Advil in my system once again. I don't know what to do!

Now I did some googling, and I found that sometimes these headaches can be caused by strained the traps, which I most definitely did in the gym on Thursday and Friday, as well as on the weekend while underneath my car working. Oh yeah, I also hauled a lot of band equipment this weekend.

The other thing that it could be is a sinus infection, which is aggitated by laying down and/or heavy stress, both of which occur when doing a flat bench. My son just got over one of those and my wife is currently sick, so it could very well be my sinuses. I've seen a little blood in my nose-blowing, so I might have a sinus infection and not realize it. They also say that sinus infections can be brought on by mold and mildew, and I inhaled my share while washing my old '71 Ford which is beyond funky.

Regardless, I don't know what to do! I was working a good 3 week pump, and this is week 3! I've read other places that sometimes this'll put people out for 2 months. I can't lose two months of progress! Ahhhhhh!
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Old 05-03-2006, 05:29 AM   #8
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Dont sweat it man. Take some time, and rest, relax and give your body time to heal up. no use forcing it, i'd take a week and see what happens. I would also stay away from the hammer bench ... it could be throwing your form off and placing undue stress on things other then your chest.

if after a week it doesnt subside, i would go see a doctor.

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Old 05-03-2006, 05:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hrdgain81
Dont sweat it man. Take some time, and rest, relax and give your body time to heal up. no use forcing it, i'd take a week and see what happens. I would also stay away from the hammer bench ... it could be throwing your form off and placing undue stress on things other then your chest.

if after a week it doesnt subside, i would go see a doctor.
Yeah, I'm done for the rest of the week. I'll go back next Monday, and see how it goes. You might be right about the Hammer machine too, so next time I head in, I'll start with something totally different. My chest routine normally starts with something on a straight bar, but without a spot, I'm leary of heavy weight on a free-floating barbell. Next week I'll be in fresh with a spot, so I'll try it back on my usual routine.
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Old 05-03-2006, 08:04 AM   #10
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Unforunately this is not really uncommon among lifters, especially on the big lifts like deads/squats. I personally get these myself when getting near my max on deadlifts and I know what your talking about, its painful and can scare the crap out of you. My advice is to simply listen to your body and if you feel one coming on to stop the lift and play it safe, you don't want to be trapped under the weight like you mentioned. Paying attention to my breathing has also helped me these.

Here is some general info that may help:

Benign Exertional Headache (Weight lifter's cephalgia)
Weight lifters headache is generally sudden in onset and occurs during active lifting. In many cases, the weight training exercise being performed at the time of headache onset was the bench press or leg press. It usually occur as a result of the maximal exertion during weight lifting (Powell 1982). The pain is described as burning or boring in quality and localized to the posterior head and neck however can radiate to the parietal and temporal parts of the occiput. Though onset is abrupt, the headache may persist for several hours or even several days gradually resolving. No clear cause has been identified in medical studies; the presumed mechanism is stretching of the cervical ligaments and tendons with development of excessive muscle contraction or vascular (due to high blood pressure). It gradually declines, leaving a residual ache that usually lasts for 4-6hours. In subsequent weeks to months, the headache recurs with exertion. The patient has no history of migraine and a normal neurologic exam.

Its important that you go see your doc. He should give u a physical focussing particularly on a neurological exam to asses of any signs of focal lesions and rule out serious causes of headaches. Do you have hypertension (high blood pressure)? Either way, your blood pressure will most definitely be measured.

Your breathing, or lack of it, could cause an massive elevation in your blood pressure causing vascular headaches (seen in weight lifters whose heart rate doubles in less than 10 seconds when performed extremely intense activity - Studies of weight lifters demonstrate that, with maximal lifts, systolic blood pressure may reach levels above 400 mm Hg and diastolic pressures above 300 mm Hg.).

What can you do about it?
Try diff exercises for those bodyparts.
Or Same exercises but lighter weights.
Pay attention to breathing.
Sometimes a NSAID painkiller is helpful.

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Here is a study done a while back:

Ann Emerg Med. 1982 Aug;11(8):449-51.

Weight lifter's cephalgia.

Physical exertion can cause migraine or the benign exertional headache. The case is presented of a 30-year-old male weight lifter who experienced excruciating headache while doing leg presses on a weight machine. Physical examination was normal, as were subsequent examinations. The patient resumed training with lighter weights and did not again experience headaches. Some experts estimate that up to 4% of the adult population engages in weight lifting occasionally, and thus this malady may be more common than is realized.
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