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Post-ride headaches - Update!

pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,069
edited January 2011 in Road beginners
Hi,

I've been riding for a couple of years now and have noticed that when I ride anything over about 50km I tend to get a headache. This often comes on several hours after I've got home. I don't think it's weather-related as it's happened in all conditions. I also don't think it's dehydration as I regularly get home needing to pee, so I think I'm drinking enough. Could it be low blood sugar? I usually eat a banana before I ride and then have a decent meal when I get home. Any ideas or advice appreciated.

Many thanks,
Steve
Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
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Posts

  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 7,960
    Even if you pee when you get home, you can still be somewhat dehydrated.

    Do you drink during and after you ride? One way to make sure you drink enough is to weigh yourself before and after a ride. If your weight goes down after - you need to top up with fluids.

    This is just one possible explanation, of course.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 9,675
    What colour is your pee after the ride?
    Ben

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  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,069
    Hi Guys,

    Yes, I do drink, regularly, during my ride. Today I rode 45km in 2 hours and drank about 700ml of water. The air temp. was between 0 and -2 degrees but I was sweating when I got home. However, no headache. In Hong Kong I would often drink 1.5 - 2 litres in 2 hour's riding. My pee is generally pale when I get home....
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 9,675
    Pale generally means you're not dehydrated. I'd be tempted to see your GP for blood tests.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    Daft question but is your hat/helmet (snigger) too tight? I've got a cap I've inexplicably failed to throw out that shrunk in the wash and now crushes my skull every time I put it on, which leads to headaches.
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,069
    P_Tucker wrote:
    Daft question but is your hat/helmet (snigger) too tight? I've got a cap I've inexplicably failed to throw out that shrunk in the wash and now crushes my skull every time I put it on, which leads to headaches.

    Not a daft question at all, and not something which I had considered, even though I have an enormous head. However, hat/helmet wearing doesn't seem to correlate with headaches....

    Steve
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • You may also want to get your eyes tested, this is usually the first thing to check when you start getting headaches regularly.
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  • redvisionredvision Posts: 2,877
    it does sound like it could be dehydration. however, i would still get it checked out. i wouldnt ride again (at least any distance rides) until you can get to your gp.
  • BozmanBozman Posts: 2,518
    It could be your neck. I had problem with headaches a few years back, it ended up being the muscles that radiate up from your neck and over the top of your head.
    Physio sorted the problem for me, this is just a suggestion but you never know.
  • suzybsuzyb Posts: 3,449
    I get headaches as well after longer rides. I read somewhere it could be because you're holding your head up it's straining your neck.
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,069
    Thank you for all of the advice.

    I don't think it's my eyesight, which has been terrible for years and so I always wear spectacles. My eyes were tested earlier this year and the prescription hasn't changed.

    The neck muscle theory is interesting, and possibly may be a factor. Even though I'm quite tall I ride a 54cm frame cyclo cross bike - I was fitted professionally for this. I'm wondering whether my posture may be bad. I don't really have problems at any other times; my resting heart rate is about 60bpm and I've never had high blood pressure. I'm not overweight (81kgs). I think I'll try changing posture and see if this helps. It's just unusual that it only seems to come on after i've been riding for 2 hours or more, and not until several hours after I've finished riding...... :?

    I'm not a fan of GPs.......
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • I went to Doctors for almost the same thing and i had low blood pressure.
    No cure just eat more salt.Your salt levels could be low after long ride?
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,069
    trevor222,
    That's interesting. If I ride over 40km or so I tend to eat some crackers (Saltines in Hong Kong) as I was aware of the need to replace the salt. Still got the headache though, so maybe that wasn't enough. I can't get Saltines here but will look for something salty and keep an eye on it. Thank you.
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • Buckled_RimsBuckled_Rims Posts: 1,648
    Someone's just put up a post about Migraine and sunglasses. I replied that I get headaches (not Migraine) because the sun's rays seem to be very strong for my eyes. If I walk in the hills or ride for a longish time even on some cloudy days I get a throbbing headache. For years I thought it was de-hydration, exhaustion or a chill. But as soon as I started wearing full wrap around sun glasses my headaches went away. I also should mention, I started to wear a peaked cap at the same time for more shade.

    But that's my experience and maybe not yours if you already wear sun glasses (full wrapped).
    CAAD9
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  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,069
    It's getting complicated now!

    I have sunglasses but they are not wrap-around as my prescription is strong and the sports-specific ones would be expensive for me, I think. I don't tend to have a problem so much when walking outdoors; I can go on longish rambles OK although these are at a relatively slow pace when I'm with the family. I'm not very good in the heat; I've had sunstroke before- I wonder if overheating could be an issue, although again, it's odd that the headache doesn't arrive until 2 or more hours after riding....

    Steve
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,069
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • I have had this problem for years, not aided by having only one and a half kidney, and neck injuries.

    I dont think it is always down to hydration. For me it has got better since I started protecting my neck with a buff.

    I do still try and drink before, during and after the ride and regularly go to the toilet for about four hours after.

    I would try protecting your neck more.
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,069
    Thanks, jimmy,

    Since returning to Europe I have been wearing a buff as it's chuffing cold here. In HK the temperature rarely fell below 10 degrees C and was often over 25 degrees, so again, I don't think that this is the main cause of my problem. After reading that link I think I will pay the doctor a visit though. However, I've had this for over 2 years and I'm not dead yet so I'm assuming it's not exactly life-threatening...

    Steve
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • CrapaudCrapaud Posts: 2,483
    Just a thought, but might be worth considering: if you're only drinking water, it could be that you're low in electrolytes. Salt's (sodium chloride) all very well, but the body needs others. I've only suffered the once, and it was fairly extreme TdF type sweat running down my arms and off the bike onto the road. It might be worthwhile trying an energy drink with electrolytes. I know that we slag Bimha off about the bananas, but they're a good source of potassium as well as energy - ie good cycling fuel (I'm a big fan).
    A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject - Churchill
  • alan14alan14 Posts: 149
    Here's my tuppence, based on experience.

    Short reply
    You could be drinking too much, particularly after the ride, and consequently losing essential salts and nutrients from your body via your urine. Try drinking less after the ride so you don't have to pee as much.

    Long, rambling reply
    5 or 6 years ago I quite regularly got headaches 4-5 hours after a long ride (30-40 miles), during which I would eat a banana and drink 750 ml of water or orange squash. I would feel fine immediately after the ride with no headache or tiredness etc., eat lunch (sandwiches, cup of tea, biscuits), followed by 2-3 glasses of water during the afternoon, some fruit (e,g, apple), then a large evening meal. I was peeing maybe one or twice in the afternoon. However, 4-5 hours after the ride, a headache would sometimes develop and get quite bad.

    I considered my posture on the bike, particularly the angle of head and neck, thinking it may be reducing the blood flow to my head, and also whether the helmet was too tight. Tried massaging my neck muscles. I visited my GP who prescribed Diclofenac Sodium 50mg tablets, to be taken before or after the ride (I can't remember which). However these tablets were only attempting to treat the symptoms (the headache), not the underlying cause and in any case they had little effect; I was still getting headaches 4-5 hours after a ride. I also had the standard blood tests and these were all clear. I don't wear glasses on or off the bike.

    The post-ride headaches continued for another year or two. Then, by chance, I watched a BBC 'magazine' type programme one morning after the London Marathon. One runner complained about getting headaches after the run; he had drunk plenty of fluids during and after the marathon, but later got a headache. The resident doctor said that he might be drinking too much and consequently peeing salts and nutrients out of his body.

    With this knowledge, I stopped drinking the 2-3 glasses of water. The result was that the headaches either didn't develop at all or, on the few occasions they did, were nowhere as bad. So now I'm very careful about the amount of fluid I drink after a ride, so that I don't need to pee as much. I have also developed a stronger bladder so that fluids stay in my body for longer. Looking back, I never used to drink much water and didn't get headaches, but then I followed the general advice in the media about drinking plenty of water, and this roughly coincided with the headaches occurring and doing longer rides.

    Hope this helps.
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,069
    Crapaud and Alan,

    Thank you for the information. While in HK I used to add powdered electrolyte to my water (a Japanese thing called, delightfully, Pocari Sweat). I still got the headaches. However, I might try drinking less and eating more after riding.

    Alan, my symptoms seem to match yours. This morning I had Weetabix and a banana before riding and another banana right after I got home (plus some bread). So double the number of bananas, not too much to drink, and no headache. However, only 45km. Sooo, I think the next ride will be over 50km and include the "double banana, less fluids" diet and see what happens... I've got an 85km sportive coming up in April, so I'd like to get it sorted before then.

    Steve
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • CrapaudCrapaud Posts: 2,483
    That sounds positive. If you've got scales, weigh yourself before and after a ride. If it's too much liquid leeching the electrolytes out of your system you'll arrive back weighing more. Aim to arrive back at roughly the same weight without having relieved yourself on the way round and bursting for a pee(s) post ride.
    A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject - Churchill
  • What are you doing after your ride? After a hard ride I have to stay away from the laptop or any type of computer screen (inc using my mobile). Going on one hours after a ride will gaurantee me a headache/migraine every time. yet doing the same ride and not going near the lappy = no headache.
    I don't tend to have any neck pain after a ride and on returning I generally have close to a litre of fluid including a recovery drink. As well as having sports drinks whilst cycling.
    Bianchi. There are no alternatives only compromises!
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  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,069
    After a ride I generally do stuff which often includes using a laptop but also cleaning the bike, watching TV etc. I don't know if there's a correlation between post-ride concentration and getting a headache but I'll keep an eye on this; thanks, Fungus.

    Crapaud - I need to get some scales....

    Steve
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • I'm fine watching telly and doing other stuff. But for some reason going on a pc of any kind does it to me. It might be worth doing a ride as you normally do and just leave out any kind of pc stuff and see if there is a difference.

    Also forgot to mention but there is a condition called post exercise migraine. You can Google it easily.
    Bianchi. There are no alternatives only compromises!
    I RIDE A KONA CADABRA -would you like to come and have a play with my magic link?
  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,069
    Thanks, Fungus. Did you see my message about curry ketchup, by the way?!
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • I would suggest it being down to your bike setup, this represents the most likely reason. The likely chance is that you have too great a saddle - bar drop resulting in you having to hold your head up. On short rides you are able to cope however when you ride longer the neck muscles aren't strong enough. This can result in the scalp tightening leading to compression of blood vessels etc and ultimately headaches.

    I realise that you had a bike fit however these generally take into consideration your body size and not flexibility. The bike may fit you perfectly however if you are not flexible enough to ride how it is setup then you will always run into problems such as the one you have. Obviously I don't know you nor have I seen you on your bike so I may be completely wrong.

    I suggest two things. When riding next try to do some shoulder exercises eg make circles with your shoulders, do a few shoulder shrugs every now and then and/or do some single arm windmill exercises every hour. These will just help to loosen up your muscles that are otherwise in a fairly static position. A 2nd exercise to try needs to be done when not riding. Standing up straight, pull you chin backwards towards your spine. Now hold it there and look upwards as much as possible, ensuring you only move your eyes. You may get a few strange looks at the cafe stop but I and a few riding buddies have found this to be quite successful.

    Hope this is of some help,

    Mike
    https://www.bikeauthority.cc/
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  • pottsstevepottssteve Posts: 4,069
    Mike,

    Thank you very much for the tips. I'm off out tomorrow so will try them.
    Cheers,
    Steve
    Head Hands Heart Lungs Legs
  • The same thing happens to me occasionally. feel great after a ride, few hours later headache.
    I solved the problem having a half hour/hour nap when the headache comes on, I wake up feeling fine.
    Might be worth a try.
  • BozmanBozman Posts: 2,518
    Neck!!!
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