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Thread: Extreme Headaches While Swimming

  1. #1
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    Angry Extreme Headaches While Swimming

    I've been having a problem recently. When I swim, about 300 yds in, I get a really bad headache. This just started happening about two weeks ago. I have been swimming for about year now and have never had anything like this. The pain is unbearable to the point where it feels like a migraine.

    If anyone has had the same problem please let me know. Are my goggles too tight? Maybe my swimcap? Am I depriving my brain of oxygen !? Any input would be greatly appreciated. I would like to be able to swim without this pain!

  2. #2
    Very Active Member Edward The Head's Avatar
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    Is it possible that you are not getting enough fluids? Maybe you need to drink some more water or Gatorade or something similar. I have never gotten a headache while swimming. I however do get pretty bad stomache aches from time to time.

  3. #3
    USMS Member since 2003 gull's Avatar
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    Could be a form of migraine (do you have a history of migraines?). If the pain is that bad, you really should consult your physician. Have you checked your blood pressure recently?

  4. #4
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    I second gull80's advise see your doctor NOW not later

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    Participating Member iSWIMinDREAMS's Avatar
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    Exclamation go today!

    Just in case you weren't convinced, I third that advice! I am an occupational therapy student--in my education so far, I have learned that what you are experiencing may be the sign of serious trouble somewhere in your cardiovascular system--including the blood supply to your brain. I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but really, really, really, please, please, please go get this checked out right away. Better safe than sorry. And let us all know how you're doing.
    Best,
    Laura

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    I don't think that it has anything to do with blood supply to my brain. I cycle and run at a very intense pace (run 6:30-7:00 min/mile and cycle at an average of 21-23mph) and have never experienced any problems, no dizziness, headaches, stomach problems, lung problems. I was just at the doctor about 3 months ago for a physical and everything was excellent. I'm not trying to deny that anything might be wrong, but it would seem odd for me to have a problem since I eat well and am very active.

    It may be that I need to intake more water/sports drink during my workout. I always have a bottle at the end of my lane, but don't drink out of it much when I swim.

  7. #7
    Participating Member iSWIMinDREAMS's Avatar
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    Sorry, there. I didn't have too much detail to go on. I hope everything works out.

  8. #8
    Very Active Member laineybug's Avatar
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    I agree 100% go back to your doctor.

    One other question are you holding your head/neck in a nutral position while swimming?

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    Neutral position?

    Probably not since I have no idea what that means..

  10. #10
    Very Active Member Conniekat8's Avatar
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    Reviview your swimming thechnique, make sure you're not tweaking yourself. Check your breating patterns, amke sure you're not straining yourself. Check your goggles and cap, yea, I get a headache If I strap my goggles on too tight for too long...

    Also, if you're not swimming under a coach, this could be a good time to look up a coach, and perhaps invest in a lesson or two, to help you figure out if something is odd about your technique... and causing this.

    If all of the above doesn't make any difference, check with the doctor.
    -Connie
    I'd rather be swimming http://www.mastersmvnswim.org/

  11. #11
    Very Active Member KenChertoff's Avatar
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    Originally posted by all3girl
    Neutral position?

    Probably not since I have no idea what that means..
    A "neutral position" means looking toward the bottom of the pool, not forward, with your head in line with your body. If you look foward or if you lift your head (say, to breathe) you may be tensing your neck muscles which can cause headaches.

  12. #12
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    Headache from swimming can be from a couple of sources. Blood pressure or vascular problems are very unlikely, as they rarely cause any pain.

    Muscle fatigue in the neck from technique that needs improvement is the most likely. Don't forget that "tension headache" does not mean "stress", but rather muscle tension. The muscles around the neck and head can really put up a fuss when strained improperly.

    It is not out of the question that hypovolemia could be causing it, although I think drinking water is probably a better alternative to 'sports' drinks.

    Lastly, if you are not breathing properly, and your workout is becoming too anerobic, this can cause headache as well.

    The most likely is from muscle strain of the neck/head. Are you in an age range at risk for osteoarthritis of the neck?

  13. #13
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    I think it may be not holding my head in a neutral position. I have also recently switched over to bi-lateral breathing instead of breathing on one side. I am only 23, so I don't think it's osteo-arthritis.

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    "neck headaches" as those of us who are intimately familiar with them call them often hurt from base of skull (occiput) along the side of the head to above the temple. Sometimes one side, sometimes both. Ice applied to the neck (not heat) can dull the pain. As has been stated above, holding your head in an awkward position definitely could cause this. Also, think about the position you hold all day or night. If you swim in the morning after having slept on one side all night (or swim in the evening after using a poorly positioned mouse all day) the swimming itself might not be the actual/only cause of the tension.

    Just use this advice if you're positive this is not some medical condition (the disclaimer portion of the post). Also, as someone noted previously, breathing could be a problem. Perhaps you are holding your breath (concentrating/learning new skills often produces this effect) or not exhaling completely. Make sure you are exhaling with BOTH your nose and mouth.

    Good luck...

  15. #15
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    headaches

    I definately used to get headaches during workouts. Initially, thought it was my exercise-induced asthma flaring abit; but as it turned out I had a chronic sinusitus set up b/c of sinus polyps! Have you seen your internist to ask?

  16. #16
    Participating Member Hugo's Avatar
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    not wanting to trivialize the problem but... have you looked at how dark your goggles are? I used to get severe headaches when I used dark tinted goggles. Even just dark goggles would do it to me. I can swim with clear or light color goggles without getting headaches. I think it's something worth looking into but the advice of seeing a doctor just in case is probably the best.
    All the best

  17. #17
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    Hugo-

    I think you just nailed my problem. I have always used clear goggles and just recently switched to dark goggles, oddly enough, right around the same time I started getting headaches. I wonder why the tint causes a headache? Oh well, I guess I'll just switch back to clear and see if that resolves the problem.

    Thank You

  18. #18
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    How bizarre.

    I wonder why the goggle color would make a difference...

    Ideas, anyone?

  19. #19
    Participating Member Hugo's Avatar
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    I don't think I have an answer to your question. My answer was purely empirical.
    I wonder if there is some sort of connection between amount of light and some sort of chemical release in response to it. Just speculations... who knows!!

    Amanda, I hope that is your problem. It would definitly save you a lot of worry. If you want to swim with tinted goggles Tyr has some great ones that are almost clear (Socket Rockets, model Ice).

  20. #20
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    I like tinted goggles since I do triathlon, so they reduce the glare off the top of the water. But, since I'm swimming inside it doesn't matter right now. I am currently using the TYR Raceflex goggles and they have a black tint, probably the darkest tint they have...

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