Resistance training for headache symptoms
Exercise prescription has long been part of headache management. This study sought to determine the impact of an upper limb strength training program on headache symptoms and found significant benefits in the reduction of both headache frequency and intensity.
573 workers from a national public administrative authority in Denmark were cluster randomized into one of 5 groups:
1) Supervised training for 1 hour per week;
2) Supervised training for 20 minutes, 3 times per week;
3) Supervised training for 7 minutes, 9 times per week;
4) Supervised only during first week, 20 minutes, 3 times per week;
5) Reference group – no training.
All intervention groups performed the same exercises using dumbbells, starting with a warm-up of 10 repetitions of each exercise (approximately 50% of 1RM). The exercises were initially performed at a load of approximately 20RM and progress to 8RM over the weeks. The training program included: front raise, lateral raise, reverse flies, shoulder shrugs and wrist extension.
Following the intervention period, a total of 344 participants (60%) completed the follow-up questionnaires.
The results indicate that 1 hour of upper limb resistance training for 20 weeks, regardless of the time distribution throughout the week, was able to significantly reduce both headache frequency and intensity, however only the supervised sessions (Group 1-3) demonstrated a reduction in the use of analgesics for headaches.
The results of this study suggest that a regular upper limb strengthening program can lead to a significant reduction of headache symptoms.
> From: Anderson et al., Musculoskelet Sci Pract 2017 (32) 38-43. All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd. Click here for the online summary.