Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Commuting
Reload this Page >

Cycling gives me migraines!

Notices
Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

Cycling gives me migraines!

Old 12-01-14, 09:18 AM
  #1  
spivonious
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Lancaster, PA, USA
Posts: 1,851

Bikes: 2012 Trek Allant, 2016 Bianchi Volpe Disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Cycling gives me migraines!

I've discovered after two years of logging that an almost guaranteed migraine trigger for me is cycling after not cycling for more than three days. Because of snow and the holiday, I hadn't cycled since last Tuesday. I rode into work, felt great. An hour later, bam migraine.

Does anyone else have this problem? If so, have you found any solutions? The migraines usually aren't that bad, but they do put me out of commission for an hour or two at work (hard to type when you can't see the screen).
spivonious is offline  
Old 12-01-14, 10:07 AM
  #2  
tjspiel
Senior Member
 
tjspiel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 8,097
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 52 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
I've discovered after two years of logging that an almost guaranteed migraine trigger for me is cycling after not cycling for more than three days. Because of snow and the holiday, I hadn't cycled since last Tuesday. I rode into work, felt great. An hour later, bam migraine.

Does anyone else have this problem? If so, have you found any solutions? The migraines usually aren't that bad, but they do put me out of commission for an hour or two at work (hard to type when you can't see the screen).
I don't know a lot about migraines, but maybe with some additional analysis you can get some further clues as to what is really triggering them. Is it the motion of cycling, the rise in activity level, the fresh air? Maybe it's just a matter of substituting some other form of exercise if there's an extended period of time you can't ride. Or maybe you'd have to keep an old bike on a trainer.
tjspiel is offline  
Old 12-01-14, 10:13 AM
  #3  
mgw4jc
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Mooresville, NC (Charlotte suburb)
Posts: 2,306

Bikes: Cannondale Synapse, Trek 5000 TCT, Giant OCR

Mentioned: 43 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 255 Post(s)
Liked 22 Times in 18 Posts
Helmet too tight?
Bright sun?
mgw4jc is offline  
Old 12-01-14, 11:08 AM
  #4  
noglider 
aka Tom Reingold
 
noglider's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: High Falls, NY, USA
Posts: 39,931

Bikes: 1962 Rudge Sports, 1971 Raleigh Super Course, 1971 Raleigh Pro Track, 1974 Raleigh International, 1975 Viscount Fixie, 1982 McLean, 1996 Lemond (Ti), 2002 Burley Zydeco tandem

Mentioned: 485 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6880 Post(s)
Liked 1,514 Times in 957 Posts
Try more coffee before your ride. I don't know what makes me think of that.
__________________
Tom Reingold, tom@noglider.com
New York City and High Falls, NY
Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

“When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments.” — Elizabeth West, US author

Please email me rather than PM'ing me. Thanks.
noglider is offline  
Old 12-01-14, 11:12 AM
  #5  
TransitBiker
contiuniously variable
 
TransitBiker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 2,279

Bikes: 2012 Breezer Uptown Infinity, Fuji Varsity

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Sounds like your vascular system may be slow to warm up.... i'd add 16 oz of water to your daily intake and 2 oz of dark chocolate 80% or more.

- Andy
TransitBiker is offline  
Old 12-01-14, 11:38 AM
  #6  
spivonious
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Lancaster, PA, USA
Posts: 1,851

Bikes: 2012 Trek Allant, 2016 Bianchi Volpe Disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks for the suggestions, all.

I usually don't have my first dose of caffeine until mid-morning (cup of tea), but I'll try having a cup with breakfast on days after breaks. The caffeine in Excedrin definitely helps manage the migraine, so it's conceivable that it would help in prevention as well, whether it's from tea or chocolate.

Dehydration could be related, but I'm usually very good about drinking enough water. I consume 8-16 oz. after my 25-30 minute ride in, depending on how hot it is.

It's tough for me to do a proper warmup since I live at the bottom of a minor hill. I do try to take it easy though.
spivonious is offline  
Old 12-01-14, 12:53 PM
  #7  
TransitBiker
contiuniously variable
 
TransitBiker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 2,279

Bikes: 2012 Breezer Uptown Infinity, Fuji Varsity

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
I have to have tea most days, it helps balance my energy & helps me fall asleep later that night.

- Andy
TransitBiker is offline  
Old 12-01-14, 01:36 PM
  #8  
cycle_maven
Collector of Useless Info
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 1,407
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
You sure they're migraines? I tend to have auras (funky smells and colors), and mine last for 8-24 hours. Never triggered by the bike, but seem to be related to chocolate, bananas, dehydration, salt. And there isn't a substance made, other than cyanide, that has any effect on them once they start. And during one, cyanide seems like a good option. Daily Metoprolol 25 mg seems to decrease their frequency.

Is there anything else you do on days that you ride that could be triggering them?
cycle_maven is offline  
Old 12-01-14, 02:53 PM
  #9  
Buglady
Senior Member
 
Buglady's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Calgary
Posts: 2,383

Bikes: 2018 Ghost Square Trekking B2.8 e-bike; 2015 MEC Cote gravel/touring bike; 1985 Boyes-Rosser tourer, now outfitted as Winter Trundle-bike

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 24 Post(s)
Liked 21 Times in 15 Posts
I tend to agree with Cycle_maven that soemthing else may be at play here. I'd check with a doctor if I were you... but what you're describing sounds a lot like my sister's neurovascular headaches, which are triggered by cold.

(I get full-on classic migraines, complete with sparkly visual aura, phantom smells, and a disconcerting tendency to start crying apparently at random... and they last almost exactly 8 hours).
Buglady is offline  
Old 12-02-14, 06:35 AM
  #10  
jazzgeek79
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: St. Pete, Fl
Posts: 129

Bikes: Trek 700 (2000ish), 88 Schwinn Voyaguer, late 80's-ish lugged Spalding mountain bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I get miner migraines. Miner in that I know people's who are a lot worse. Last time I had one I took the sumatriptan that my doctor prescribed me which usually helps. I noticed last time that the medicine didn't seem to work until after I had coffee, which was almost an hour after I took the pill. It may be a coincidence. I was also told to take magnesium supplement. Perhaps that would help?
jazzgeek79 is offline  
Old 12-02-14, 09:11 AM
  #11  
corrado33
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Bozeman
Posts: 4,094

Bikes: 199? Landshark Roadshark, 198? Mondonico Diamond, 1987 Panasonic DX-5000, 1987 Bianchi Limited, Univega... Chrome..., 1989 Schwinn Woodlands, Motobecane USA Record, Raleigh Tokul 2

Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1129 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
What kind of headaches are you having?

corrado33 is offline  
Old 12-02-14, 09:41 AM
  #12  
Mr. Hairy Legs
Super-spreader
 
Mr. Hairy Legs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: where black is the color, where none is the number
Posts: 887

Bikes: shiny red tricycle

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1167 Post(s)
Liked 101 Times in 97 Posts
I get migraine auras too, but they were a lot more common back when I wasn't cycling much - in my case I'd say cycling helps to prevent them! Alcohol is often the trigger, and they would most often strike at the end of a long weekend.
Mr. Hairy Legs is offline  
Old 12-02-14, 07:29 PM
  #13  
babaluey
OlyCommuter
 
babaluey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Olympia, WA
Posts: 175

Bikes: Spot Ajax for commuting, Jamis Dakota Sport for dirt.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Could it be tension headache caused by shoulder/neck stress from your riding position? If you're leaning heavily on your arms, or leaning forward with head up (so you can see where you're going) that can put stress on those areas. Would be great if you had the chance to try a more upright bike, or even a recumbent, to check this.
babaluey is offline  
Old 12-02-14, 08:12 PM
  #14  
seb1041
Senior Member
 
seb1041's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Montreal
Posts: 402
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Drink water before, during AND after.
seb1041 is offline  
Old 12-02-14, 09:15 PM
  #15  
2manybikes
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 17,961

Bikes: 2 many

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1192 Post(s)
Liked 222 Times in 106 Posts
I had suicidal migraines for about 12 years. Often started by cycling. They would last about 1.5 days. I would throw up every 20 minutes. Then towards the end my body wanted to lock itself into that cramp that causes you to vomit. You can't breath when that happens. Finally my neurologist retired. He was 75 and using what was state of the art in the 1950's. I had a referall to a new neurologist that is young and using state of the art treatment now. No migraines arter a couiple of visits. Amyitriptaline.
The sugestions here are all things that may work, I've used them all. The problem is there are a lot more too. The best and probably fastest method is a good neuroligist. I have had a couple lately, I know I have pinched nerves in my neck. That's where the pain starts. I raised my bars so I don't have to tip myhead back so far, that is a trgger for me. The recent onset of cold weather has trigered a couple after a ride. To stop one that starts now I take imitrex when they start. It's very safe. Get a neurologist that is very up to date on treatments.
2manybikes is offline  
Old 12-02-14, 09:47 PM
  #16  
ClarkinHawaii
Senior Member
 
ClarkinHawaii's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Wahiawa. Oahu
Posts: 1,701
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
A quote from Louise L. Hay in her book "You can Heal your Life", page 125:

"Migraine headaches are created by people who want to be perfect and who create a lot of pressure on themselves. A lot of suppressed anger is involved. Interestingly, migraine headaches can almost always be alleviated by ************ if you do it as soon as you feel the migraine coming on. The sexual release dissolves the tension and the pain."

Uh . . . might want to clear it with the boss first.
ClarkinHawaii is offline  
Old 12-02-14, 09:55 PM
  #17  
SalsaShark
Senior Member
 
SalsaShark's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eastern Iowa
Posts: 508

Bikes: 2014 Trek Allant drop bar conversion, modified Schwinn MTN commuter, 2015 Trek 520, Soma ES, Salsa Journeyman

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 122 Post(s)
Liked 213 Times in 102 Posts
I used to get migraines quite frequently. I found that my trigger was caffeine related. Not too much caffeine, but caffeine withdrawl. I would drink a fair amount of soda while at work each day, and then on my days off, not have the soda. Almost like clockwork, I would get a migraine on my day off, from the caffeine withdrawl. By keeping an eye on and limiting my caffeine intake on a daily basis, I rarely get migraines any more. Not saying that this is your particular problem, but I would look at what differs in your daily routine on days that you bike, and on your off days. Perhaps there is something in your routine or diet that changes on non-cycling days that is triggering your headaches.
SalsaShark is offline  
Old 12-03-14, 11:25 AM
  #18  
spivonious
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Lancaster, PA, USA
Posts: 1,851

Bikes: 2012 Trek Allant, 2016 Bianchi Volpe Disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
They're definitely migraines. Aura followed by head pain and/or nausea. Sometimes worse than others.

I used to get them a lot in high school and college, like once every few weeks. The trigger back then was usually stress (big test coming up, etc.). Then I went years with none. Started biking into work and started getting them occasionally, so I started keeping a log to nail down a trigger.

For treatment, I take Excedrin. It usually cuts down on the pain enough that I can stay at work. I took Imitrex once back in the late 90s and got a horrible rebound headache the next day.

I just took another look at my logs, and it could be stress-related. Some were days that I got a flat tire, others were rushing, one was first ride after a wrist injury. All of them occurred after a break in riding, anywhere from 3 to 10 days.

Last edited by spivonious; 12-03-14 at 11:30 AM.
spivonious is offline  
Old 12-03-14, 02:21 PM
  #19  
2manybikes
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 17,961

Bikes: 2 many

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1192 Post(s)
Liked 222 Times in 106 Posts
Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
They're definitely migraines. Aura followed by head pain and/or nausea. Sometimes worse than others.

I used to get them a lot in high school and college, like once every few weeks. The trigger back then was usually stress (big test coming up, etc.). Then I went years with none. Started biking into work and started getting them occasionally, so I started keeping a log to nail down a trigger.

For treatment, I take Excedrin. It usually cuts down on the pain enough that I can stay at work. I took Imitrex once back in the late 90s and got a horrible rebound headache the next day.

I just took another look at my logs, and it could be stress-related. Some were days that I got a flat tire, others were rushing, one was first ride after a wrist injury. All of them occurred after a break in riding, anywhere from 3 to 10 days.
Try raising your bars and sit up as high as possible, so you don't lean forward and tip your neck back.
I also had them a long time ago. Seems like my history and triggers are very similar to yours. Maybe the start of cycling after time off causes some neck muscles to get sore, then they get better as you ride more, and tone the muscles. Anyway, best of luck with your treatments. Let me know how it goes. If you tried imitrex, does that mean you have or had a good neurologist?
2manybikes is offline  
Old 12-03-14, 02:38 PM
  #20  
spivonious
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Lancaster, PA, USA
Posts: 1,851

Bikes: 2012 Trek Allant, 2016 Bianchi Volpe Disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
^ Got the Imitrex from my dad. He was also trying it out at the time (seems like migraines are hereditary). I haven't seen any specialist about them since they're not really interfering with my life. According to my log, I've had 9 this year.

Also, I don't think it's neck muscles. My bike is super upright already (Trek Allant).
spivonious is offline  
Old 12-03-14, 03:29 PM
  #21  
2manybikes
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 17,961

Bikes: 2 many

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1192 Post(s)
Liked 222 Times in 106 Posts
Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
^ Got the Imitrex from my dad. He was also trying it out at the time (seems like migraines are hereditary). I haven't seen any specialist about them since they're not really interfering with my life. According to my log, I've had 9 this year.

Also, I don't think it's neck muscles. My bike is super upright already (Trek Allant).
Just FYI my mother had them.
2manybikes is offline  
Old 12-03-14, 05:11 PM
  #22  
Sullalto
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Cascadia
Posts: 1,206

Bikes: Jamis Quest Comp

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 169 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by ClarkinHawaii View Post
A quote from Louise L. Hay in her book "You can Heal your Life", page 125:

"Migraine headaches are created by people who want to be perfect and who create a lot of pressure on themselves. A lot of suppressed anger is involved. Interestingly, migraine headaches can almost always be alleviated by ************ if you do it as soon as you feel the migraine coming on. The sexual release dissolves the tension and the pain."

Uh . . . might want to clear it with the boss first.
Truth. Gotta get started before the pain prevents a stiffy though.
Sullalto is offline  
Old 12-30-14, 09:10 AM
  #23  
spivonious
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Lancaster, PA, USA
Posts: 1,851

Bikes: 2012 Trek Allant, 2016 Bianchi Volpe Disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
With the holidays, I've had two occasions where I had a long break from cycling. No migraines! I have consciously tried to relax my shoulders and neck on the first ride in and it seems to be helping. Thanks for the suggestion @2manybikes and @babaluey!
spivonious is offline  
Old 12-30-14, 10:39 AM
  #24  
RidingMatthew 
Let's Ride!
 
RidingMatthew's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Triad, NC USA
Posts: 2,524

Bikes: --2010 Jamis 650b1-- 2016 Cervelo R2-- 2018 Salsa Journeyman 650B

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 318 Post(s)
Liked 24 Times in 16 Posts
i am not sure about migraines but I know that the after a break then riding in the cold weather tends to give me some sinus headaches. Makes me feel like I can feel the cold inside my head.
i also made sure i hydrated really well and it helped. best of luck sorting this out. I would recommend seeing a Dr.
__________________
"Work to eat. Eat to live. Live to bike. Bike to work." --Anonymous ||| "late & alive > early & dead." ~Steely Dan
RidingMatthew is offline  
Old 12-30-14, 11:04 AM
  #25  
TheMaestro
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Boston
Posts: 5

Bikes: Masi, Pinerallo, Cinelli, Raleigh, Peugeot

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I'm a little late to the dance on this one but I've been suffering from exercised educed migraines for years. To this day when I play hockey I have to take 2 Advil liquid-gels before I even get on the ice. Sometimes lifting/working out can trigger them too. Especially with movements of fast rushes of blood to my head, or extremely intense cardio. It's all blood and capillary expansion related. I know for me dehydration, stress, a booze bender etc can trigger it. The aura, the pain etc.. but I swear the fix is 2 or 3 Advil Liquid Gels as soon as the first sign hits and crush a can of regular Coke as fast as you can. The liquid gels get in your system WAY faster than regular and the Coke (caffine) opens the capillaries that are constricted causing the pain. I'm far from a doctor but athletically these things have been killing me for years and I swear if you try that 'fix' asap as it hit, lay in a dark room/eyes closed, you can kick the aura in a half hr/45 mins. You get the residual head ache but personally I can live with pain, it's the vision that kills me. Hope this helps you or someone reading.
TheMaestro is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.