Four weeks ago I had an ‘Exertion Headache’ while working out. If you don’t know what that is it’s okay because neither did I. The affects are similar to a concussion and it’s caused by a spike in blood pressure in your brain. Basically I stretched the blood vessels in my head beyond their normal operating capacity. I was on my last rep when what felt like a grenade went off in my head so I dumped the bar and collapsed on the ground. Honestly I thought I blew a gasket in my brain and was seriously considered having someone call 911. After a few minutes the intense pain subsided and left me with a dull, persistent pain in my temples, a stiff neck, sore jaw and an aversion to loud noises. I’m still dealing with the residual effects.
So I did what any normal person would do and diagnosed myself with the medical degree I got from GU (Google University). There were 6 factors listed that can contribute to an Exertion Headache. I think I had 7 of them. The list included Dehydration, Big Movements, Heavy Weight, High Reps, Compromised Blood Flow and Not Breathing. So I was fasting and hadn’t had anything to drink before class, we were doing a bunch of front squats with as much weight as possible, the bar was pushing up against my throat cutting off circulation and I held my breathe on the last two reps. I will say that our coaches stress the importance of hydration and breathing ALL the time. I knew better.
I’ve worked out this hard before, even harder and been perfectly fine. It was just the combination that pushed me and my blood pressure over the edge. It got me thinking that these ‘factors’ might apply to areas of our lives beyond our physical health. Like maybe our marriages, our money, our emotional well-being, our walk with the Lord, etc.
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV
Let’s take a look at those 6 factors from a different point of view –
- Dehydration – We need to be constantly pouring into our lives because we are constantly pouring out of them. God has called us to be rivers not reservoirs of His grace and life.
- Big Movements – Life ebbs and flows and so do our priorities. If we are not putting the right amount of effort into the right places at the right time we won’t get the right results.
- Heavy Weight – When we are dealing with a crisis in our life we often see things only from that perspective. Some people seem to live in crisis, going from one to the next. If they don’t have one of their own at the moment they will attach to somebody else’s. Not a healthy way to live. We need to remember this is just a season and God has brought us here for a reason.
- High Reps – Sometime we don’t appreciate the wear and tear of the daily grind. If we’re not careful our routine becomes a rut and we’re crazy busy but not making any headway. If something isn’t working more of it might not be the answer.
- Compromised Blood Flow – Blood flows from the heart, carrying life giving oxygen and food to every cell of our body and carrying away all the junk that needs to go. When we lose heart it’s not long before we lose hope.
- Not Breathing – Speaking of hope sometimes we hold our breath hoping that something will pass. Hope should produce faith and faith should move us to action. Ultimately action is what will get us to our goal.
Very rarely do we make one decision that’s so bad it causes catastrophic results. Usually it’s a combination of things, over a period of time that is our undoing. My advice is to listen to your coaches (people that are winning), watch for warning signs along the way and take preventative measures so you don’t end up sidelined with a Marriage/Money/Anything Else Exertion Headache.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” – 2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV