Another headache thread -- Might be neck related?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Another headache thread -- Might be neck related?

    I often struggle with headaches after rides, usually if I'm not hydrated enough or don't get enough calories. But sometimes even after chugging and eating as much as I can both before and after I still get a delayed headache. Maybe four or five hours later.

    I suspect it may be my neck, as it does seem to originate in that area, but it causes pain in the front of my head too. This would make sense, as I spend a decent amount of my ride doing downhill with my butt in the air and having to look "up."

    What remedies can I try to relax those neck muscles, or is there a technique adjust I need to make on my bike?
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  2. #2
    Ride More - Suffer Less
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    Check your position setup, you may need an adjustment to help with the neck issue that could be related to the headache. Things like shortening reach etc...do some Googling...

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by eicca View Post
    I suspect it may be my neck, as it does seem to originate in that area, but it causes pain in the front of my head too. This would make sense, as I spend a decent amount of my ride doing downhill with my butt in the air and having to look "up."
    How slammed are your bars (low)? If they are lower then the height of your saddle, bring them up (hopefully you don't have one of those lefty setups where you can't swap stems or put in spacers).

    Also, what do you eat? If you are "chugging" plain water you may be washing all the electrolytes out of your system. That could certainly cause trouble. Just eating salty foods could help, but the best thing would be to switch out plain water for something that has electrolytes. I use Tailwind Nutrition, which is relatively high in sodium and other electrolytes when compared to many of the exercise drinks out there.

    One other thing people do not realize, plain water is harder for your body to absorb than water with just a little caloric content (sucrose, fructose, maltodextrin) in it. If you're having headaches, cramps, etc the first thing I would try is ditching the plain water.

    YMMV.
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  4. #4
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    I try to head it off at the pass and take some ibuprofin or asprin when I get back. Normally a glass of lemonade with a little salt added in before and again after the ride does wonders.

    Alternative thought: Allergies.
    I never had allergies as a kid, but I get them now. there are certain trails I go to and certain times of the year that I get massive head and neck pain a couple hours after a ride. I even get them when mowing the grass in my hard at certain times of the year. Kick up a bunch of dust, and I'm done.
    "a hundred travel books isn't worth one real trip"

  5. #5
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    I've been using water with just a dash of lemonade mix and a generous pinch of salt as a sort of homemade electrolyte drink. Works fantastic. If I don't use it I can feel the difference in my endurance and I feel gross and drained afterward. It works just as well as the electrolyte stuff I used last year.

    I don't think it's heat related. I worked groundskeeping for an entire summer two years ago and even with four 10-hour days a week in the ridiculous heat never had a problem.

    I do believe it is neck related as it gets progressively worse as the day goes on regardless of nutritional intake. Whenever I have nutrition related headaches I can kill those with food and drinks.

    Only problem is my steerer is too short to add any spacers and 40mm is the shortest stem I can find at the moment.

    I'll try focusing on my tension and position while riding and see if a neck massage or something after the ride helps
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  6. #6
    @njcshreds
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    This could be a number of things.

    The allergies you mention is a possibility. I never had them as a kid and them developed them around 30.

    Do you hydrate during your ride? If not, drinking at home is too late.

    Have you tried different helmets? If yours doesn't fit you right that could be it. Same goes for sunglasses. I had a pair of glasses that was just a smidgen too tight and it'd really bother me if I wore them long while riding.

    Finally - if you try this other stuff or it's that bad go see a doctor! It could be a simple thing or it might not be.
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  7. #7
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    At this point I'm almost 100% certain it's neck-related. After an 8-hour downhill day in the heat at the resort and no headache, I also believe it has to do with climbing posture, although I did make a conscious effort to stay loose in the shoulders and neck on the way down.

    Thanks for your input. I've also paid attention to any ways I can tweak my setup and nutrition to try to knock the headaches out.
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  8. #8
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    From what part of your head are the headaches originating (you said you thought neck)? Any numbness associated with the headaches?

    Stress on the neck can come from holding your head up or keeping your arms too tight. You might feel that on the back of the neck. Of course pain in the neck can be referred from the shoulders or upper back, too.

    Allergies sometimes show up in the front of the head or around and under the eyes.

    You should also consider is what you are doing outside of riding. It may be that riding is the straw that broke the camels back.

    For example....Time on the computer if your posture is poor can also stress the same muscles. Some people hold the phone with their head cranked over. Paying attention to posture during the day can help reduce some of these issues.

    Do you chew gum? That can stress the temporals muscles which can cause headaches, usually on the sides of your head but sometimes referred to the neck area.

    Clenching and grinding of your teeth can stress your neck and create headaches or stress the jaw muscles.

    Do you do any stretches or yoga? Some people find that these can help.

  9. #9
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    "What remedies can I try to relax those neck muscles,"

    I use a roller and (lately) a ball to work pressure knots on my neck, sholders and back of the head, The ball allows work closer to the spine. I have/had neck problems since a motor vehicle accident in the 90s, and these got me off muscle relaxers and pain pills. So one anecdotal vote, but....

    the ball
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    The stick
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I don't know if it's snake oil stuff or what, but it does work for me.

  10. #10
    nvphatty
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