Migraine Awareness week

Sep 04, 2020
Posted in: Fitness, Well-being   Posted by: Ragdale Hall Spa

Ahead of Migraine Awareness week, which starts on the 6th September, Ragdale’s own health and fitness guru, Dean Hodgkin, shares his insightful piece which was featured in Health Store Magazine. If you’re a sufferer of migraines or headaches, (this can be intensified during stressful times, such as a pandemic!) then this may be the blog for you.

‘Studies show that exercise has great potential to not only reduce the frequency and severity of migraine bouts but also to help prevent them occurring in the first place. This is thought to be due to exercise stimulating the body to release specific hormones, 2 key ones being endorphins, that reduce pain and enkephalins that act as a natural anti-depressant.

Guests enjoying a nordic walk fitness class

The recommended choice of activity is moderate effort aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling or swimming and logically, avoiding the current trend of high intensity interval training (HIIT) removes a potential trigger. Additionally, building up gently if you’re not a regular exerciser, consuming a small carbohydrate snack around 90mins before exercise and ensuring you remain hydrated are recognised tactics to help migraine sufferers to enjoy a comfortable workout.

Further useful tips for headache free exercise include checking your form to ensure you’re not clenching your face muscles nor stressing your neck during toning exercises and keeping a diary so you can periodically review it to identify which type and intensity of exercise acts as a trigger and so should be avoided in future. As you would expect, gentle stretching movements, particularly for the neck and shoulders, can help to release tension.

Guest stretching her leg outside at Ragdale Hall

Whilst the precise cause of migraine remains a bit of a mystery, recent research has established that weight could be a contributing factor with obese individuals 27% more likely to develop symptoms than those whose weight falls within the standard norms. Clearly exercise is a highly effective tool to control weight so finding a routine that works for you, rather than avoiding it for fear of triggering attacks, seems the optimum plan. Conveniently, the foods that are thought to help avoid migraine also constitute a healthy weight management diet, ie salmon, cod, scallops, flaxseed oil, fruit, vegetables and lean meats, whilst your advised to also reduce polyunsaturated vegetable oils, nuts, caffeine and processed foods.

Finally, unsurprisingly, research shows that any activity that has a focus on interactions between the brain, body and behaviours can reduce symptoms of migraine, so I strongly recommended meditation.’

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