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Headaches Caused by Exercise: What you need to know

Updated: Jun 13, 2021

Headache from Exercise | Wellbeing Physiotherapy Leederville

Headaches affect the head and neck and can be discomforting or even very painful. It’s common for most people and can be caused by medical conditions or stress and other physical factors.

There are a few types of headaches that are caused by certain exercises or the environment of those exercises.

Exertional Headaches

The first is benign exertional headaches which is common in sports that may cause a rush of blood to the head and increase blood pressure. An example is weightlifting, and this type of headache can last from a short period up to several hours.

Post Traumatic

Post traumatic headaches are caused by a physical force to the head and this could occur in sports such as football, basketball or rugby where the ball or other players could collide with someone’s head. Unconsciousness could occur in extreme cases.

External Compression

External compression is also known as ‘swim goggle headache’ because this kind of headache is caused by a long period of pressure being applied on the skull. For example, the pressure applied by the swimming goggle strap. To prevent this, make sure your equipment is well-fitting and isn’t too tight!

High altitude headaches

High altitude headaches refer to headaches that result from being in high altitudes and it’s common for athletes who aren’t used to it, since the availability of oxygen in the air changes. Along with headaches, nausea and sickness can also be experienced at high altitudes.


Hypercapnia is also called ‘diver’s headache’ because it is caused by the increased pressure under water. Headaches may be associated with the increase in carbon dioxide in the blood

Traumatic Headache | Wellbeing Physiotherapy Leederville


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