We’ve all been there. That really bad migraine that will not leave you alone all day. It cripples you and disables your productivity the whole day. We’ve all experienced that annoying, persistent headache that drains your energy throughout the day. Those are the worst days. You don’t feel terrible enough to go home and rest, but you don’t feel very good either. Migraines and headaches are the worst type of pain for that very reason.
I remember my first migraine like it happened yesterday. I was a young teenager living at home. About 3 years prior I had been diagnosed with PCOS (you can read about that on my blog – thequackyduck.com). Those first years were mostly about weight management issues. It wasn’t until a few years later that the migraines hit. I never had a migraine that was in any consistent pattern. They came and went as they pleased. The first time I had one, I went into the drug cabinet to grab some aspirin for relief. It was so painful. I still had to work a part-time job and be a full-time student.
I quickly learned that I couldn’t seek relief from typical medicines and chose to use the “suck it up” method until it went away. Sometimes this simply meant I needed to get some sleep and the rest would allow my body to work out the pain. Other times, rest meant nothing.
I guess my pain really liked the number 2.
I did have a steady pattern for my migraines all throughout high school. When it was really bad, I would try falling asleep unsuccessfully for 2 hours before finally get 2 hours of rest. Only then I would wake up with the migraine still present and be awake for another 2 hours before falling asleep again. Because of this, I would get maybe 4 hours of sleep that evening.
My sister had been dealing with these migraines for many years already and was used to them coming on whenever they wanted. Her migraines come on randomly and sometimes not so randomly. Both my sister and eldest brother deal with migraines and they tend to use strong prescription medicine to alleviate their pain. This is the case for many people. We use drugs to alleviate the pain instead of looking at the reasons for these migraines. Understanding the causes for headaches/migraines is key to creating preventative measures. In addition, this knowledge can give insight on how to alleviate pain during an attack.
There is a ton of research out there on headaches and migraines. From Harvard to the Mayo Clinic to NIH to the AMJM, there are tons of papers and reviews looking at what causes them and what can prevent them. The irony is that many of these causes are linked back to lifestyle. Whether you live a healthy lifestyle or not can be a big factor in what sort of health problems you’ll face.
Let’s not ignore one of the best ways to alleviate them.
I can personally attest that exercise helped me to overcome my migraine and headache issues. While I still may have the one-off headache (these are idiopathic in nature), I generally am pain-free. With my hormonal imbalance, exercise is a great way for me to reset my body and get those hormones into their proper place. While pain relievers may be a relatively easy way to alleviate pain, they are not a long-term solution. In the business of health and wellness, we want long-term solutions. The best part is that exercise is good for your body in ways beyond alleviating pain. If you were looking for a reason to start exercising, you now have one. If you are looking for a way to alleviate headaches, you now have one. Use exercise as the drug to alleviate your migraines and headaches as well as become a better, leaner, healthier you!
To read more about the causes behind migraines and headaches, check out my post on thequackyduck.com.