One of the only unwanted side-effects of weight lifting I’ve experienced is tight muscles. The pros usually get massaged daily, but most of us mere mortals don’t have that luxury. However, recent developments have left me equal parts happy and pained…
When I first started lifting weights I was training shoulders twice a week. As I had very little muscle to begin with, my traps and rhomboids were in what seemed to be constant agony. I always wanted shoulder rubs (much to my husband’s delight!) and always had an interrupted sleep on shoulder days because of the pain.
While the pain eventually subsided as my muscles grew I began noticing that my migraines were increasing in frequency. I’ve had migraines my entire life, and had to deal with ignorant doctors telling my five-year-old self it was impossible for me to have them – despite my blinding pain and accompanying vomiting. Luckily medicine has wised up since then, but unfortunately not far enough in terms of pills as I am yet to find something to cure my attacks.
It’s not uncommon for me to have a migraine for two or three days straight, during which time I’m effectively useless: I can’t tolerate sound or light, which generally makes work or any social interaction in general impossible.
About six months ago my migraines changed. I was getting them once a week, usually on Mondays (I’m almost certain they were caused by returning to work after a screen-free weekend – I really am allergic to work!), but always in the same spot. All the pressure seemed to accumulate in my right temple and the only way I could relieve the pain was by pushing as hard as I could on it. Rob hated it, but my favourite request was asking him to push his elbow into my temple.
In the past, my migraines always moved around my head every few hours and switched from side to side. The new migraines seemed to be related to a golf-ball sized web of tension on the right side of my neck – initially caused by sitting in front of a computer screen all day and somehow exacerbated by weight lifting.
About a month ago I decided the time had come to make sure there wasn’t something seriously wrong with me. I went to the doctor, and luckily my self-diagnosis was pretty spot-on. My doctor told me I had one of the tightest necks he’d ever seen and I’ve had massage therapists since say that rubbing my shoulders is like massaging a bag of gravel!
My doctor said my tight neck is causing tension headaches, which are then being turned into full-blown migraines by my wonderfully helpful body. My doctor told me that the only cure is having massages at least once a week. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to hear a doctor’s diagnosis!
The even better news is that my neck is in such a bad state I’m classified as having a ‘chronic disability’, so Medicare will cover the majority of the cost of my massages. Since my doctor’s appointment I’ve had several massages and it seems to be working, although the massages are a lot more unpleasant than I would have preferred. It had been almost six weeks since my last migraine until today one came up out of the blue, which is again in the same spot and caused by neck tension. It doesn’t really make sense because my migraines were never initially brought on by tension, so you would think I would still get my normal bouts of migraines.
I’m at the point of no return so to speak, in that not even the best massage will cure me now. I’m hoping that 10 hours of sleep will get rid of it! I have my first appointment with a chiropractor on Saturday, so I’m nervously excited to see what they think about my neck and if they have a better insight than my doctor about how lifting weights might make it better or worse.
Has anyone else out there experienced muscle pain like this from weight lifting? My form appears to be fine for most exercises so I do think my problems are more related to the fact I spend most of my time in front of a computer, but I do worry that I’m somehow compensating for weak muscles elsewhere by tensing my neck when lifting.