3 tips to prevent painful post-run headaches

Discover stretches and nutritional tips that'll help prevent a headache after your next run.
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3 tips to prevent painful post-run headaches

Even if you've had a great run and you don't think you've overexerted yourself, it's still possible to get hit with an agonizing post-run headache. It can happen even to those who don't feel overheated or dizzy during the run. Here are a few ways to mitigate the risk.

1. Avoid dehydration

One of the main causes of headaches in anyone, not just runners, is dehydration. Not consuming enough fluids before and during a run is sure to give you a headache. Experts agree that you should be drinking enough water to make you use the bathroom about every two hours.

Gulping down a lot of water just prior to your run isn't the proper way to hydrate. You have to think about the time of day you plan to run and make a plan to properly hydrate ahead of time. If you're going to run first thing in the morning, make sure you drink lots of water the night before, and then drink another glass of water about 15 minutes before your run. If you've planned your run for late afternoon or evening, sip water all day long in preparation for the run.

It's not always necessary to drink water during the run. If it's cool out and your run is going to be less than one hour, you can forego drinking while running. But if it's hot, or if you're going on a long run, or if you know you just sweat a lot, then plan to bring a bottle of water with you on the run.

Electrolytes also help your body to stay adequately hydrated. You can dissolve an electrolyte tablet or powder in your water and you can consume electrolyte-rich foods throughout the day. Bananas, baked sweet potatoes, almonds and coconut water are all packed with beneficial electrolytes.

2. Keep your blood sugar levels in check

You can also prevent headaches by balancing your diet before running. Keep your blood sugar at optimum levels by including the right balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in your diet. Eat a quick snack like a piece of fruit or a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter about an hour before running. After running, nourish your body with a snack that contains carbs and protein.

3. Stretch your neck and shoulders

Tightness in the neck and shoulders also contributes to headaches. After running, do stretches that stretch out the muscles in your neck, shoulders and upper back. Also, a hot shower or an upper-body massage can relax those tight muscles and prevent a headache.

With the proper planning and attention to your hydration, nutrition and upper body muscles, you'll likely lessen the occurrence of post-run headaches. However, if your headaches are concerning you, pay a visit to the doctor to rule out any underlying health issues.

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