Migraines are the most common type of headache, causing severe throbbing pain on one side of the head and significantly reducing one’s quality of life. A migraine attack can last for hours or even days, and it’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme light and sound sensitivity.
According to a 2018 Deloitte Access Economics Report, approximately 5 million Australians suffer from migraine, with of them — around 400,000 people — experiencing chronic migraine, which is defined as more than 15 migraine days per month.
Migraines affect much more women than males, and they are far more common among working-age adults.
«During a flare, all people want to do is sleep in a cool dark room and do nothing,» Adnan Asger Ali, physiotherapist and vice national chair of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia explains. According to a study, regular exercise appears to have a preventive effect in reducing the number and intensity of migraines. One of the key reasons that physical activity may help lessen migraines, according to Ali, is that it encourages the body to produce endorphins (natural analgesics).
He notes that «physical therapy can be utilized in conjunction with pharmaceutical migraine treatment.» «It could mean they take two Panadol instead of two codeine, but that’s still a success because they’re not taking the harmful substance,» says the author.
Individuals should contact a health expert before beginning a new exercise regimen, but here are some physical activity options that may help manage migraines. A comprehensive physical examination is required to adopt a treatment plan for the individual, and individuals should contact a health expert before beginning a new exercise regimen.
Yoga and tai chi are included in the class
According to Ali, migraine sufferers benefit greatly from slow movements, meditation, and relaxation. Yoga and tai chi are two examples of this kind of workout.
In a recent randomised clinical trial including 114 individuals aged 18 to 50 years with an episodic migraine diagnosis, researchers discovered that those who practised yoga as an add-on therapy had fewer and less intense headaches than those who received medical treatment alone.
Tai chi can also be used to prevent migraines. According to a 2018 randomised controlled investigation, 82 Chinese women with episodic migraines reported significantly fewer migraine attacks following 12 weeks of tai chi instruction.
The motion is called a chin tuck
Migraines, according to Ali, can be triggered by neck stiffness and postural issues. He suggests the chin tuck, commonly known as a cervical retraction, to strengthen neck muscles and improve mobility.
The chin tuck exercise can be done standing or seated. Start by sitting up straight and relaxing your neck and shoulders while looking straight ahead. Tuck your chin into your neck by gently running your finger along your chin. Without holding your breath, move your head up and down and bend your neck forward.
At the base of the skull and the top of the neck, there is a little tug. If it doesn’t hurt, hold the position for around five seconds before doing the exercise ten times.
Activities include walking, jogging, running, and cycling
Aerobic movements such as walking, jogging, running, and cycling may help with migraine relief.
According to a systematic review of studies on exercise and migraine published in The Journal of Headache and Pain in 2019, moderate-intensity exercise – physical activities that raise your heart rate and make you breathe harder while still allowing you to talk – can help you have fewer migraine days.
«Any activity that people engage in on a regular basis and enjoy is beneficial to them,» Ali says.
HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is difficult to master
According to Ali, HIIT workouts, which alternate brief bursts of intense cardiac exercise with rest or lower-intensity exercise, are not advised. «Very high-intensity activity is discouraged if it triggers your migraine,» he recommends.
In some people, high-intensity exercise might trigger a migraine headache. Regular HIIT activities, on the other hand, maybe more beneficial to some people than moderate exercise, underscoring the importance of a personalised fitness strategy.