Exercise or benign exertional headache is a type of headache which is brought on specifically with exercise.  It is vascular in nature.

Signs & Symptoms

A headache which:

  • Is triggered by exercise or exertion

  • Affects both sides of the head

  • Is throbbing in nature

  • Varies in duration from minutes to all day

What Causes It?

  • Exertion can increase blood pressure and cause dilatation of sinuses at the base of the brain.  This results in pain.

  • Activities such as running, lifting weights or participating in sport, which involve exertion and straining can trigger exertional headaches.

How to Self Manage

  • To ascertain that the headaches are in fact benign and exertional in nature, a review by your GP is recommended.

  • Once confirmed it would be wise to avoid aggravating activities


Long term it may be necessary to refrain from aggravating activities

Your GP may be able to prescribe medication to relieve the symptoms you experience.

How Physio Helps

  • Your physiotherapist should take a thorough subjective history to determine the type of headache you are experiencing

  • They will then exclude other causes for your headache

  • With GP confirmation, they can then observe the activity which triggers the exertional headaches and offer advice in reducing strain associated with the activity.

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Disclaimer: Information made available by AskPhysio (Sammy Margo Physiotherapy) is provided for guidance only and should not be considered as medical recommendations or advice.  AskPhysio is not responsible for errors or omissions in the information. Please consider what the best options for your healthcare are, based on the urgency of your condition and nature of your condition. Please consult a GP or Healthcare Specialist to discuss any specific concerns that exist prior to using the information provided.