Ponytails are the most convenient hairstyle known to mankind. They’re the answer to freakishly hot commutes, half-hearted attempts to leave the house on lazy weekends, and looking somewhat presentable after sweaty gym sessions. So far, so good.
But as most of us have likely experienced at least once, they also result in headaches, especially when you keep your hair up the entire day. It’s annoying at best—and downright scary if they happen too often.
To get to the root of the issue, ELLE.com approached Dr. Denise E. Chou, neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center. “When you put your hair in a tight bun or ponytail, or a weave or extensions, that will pull the nerves in the scalp. That pulling of the nerves will activate the sensory nerves even more,” Dr. Chou explained. “That can result in the headache itself, or it could be that the headache is beginning.”
Interestingly enough, Dr. Chou also said that migraine-prone women are more likely to get headaches from wearing a ponytail. "Putting your hair up shouldn't be painful. But it can be perceived as painful during a migraine attack,” she said.
And if you think you’re spared from hairstyle-induced headaches because you’re not susceptible to migraines, think again. You still can, no thanks to “the physical strain, tension, or compression activating those nerves' sensory endings.”
Dr. Chou’s proposed solution? While popping pills might seem like a tempting option, the neurologist suggests something simpler. And that, CGs, is to ease up on the forehead-stretching ponytails and buns, and favor looser, relaxed hairstyles. You don’t have to ditch your updos altogether—just tie your hair back with a lighter hand! Your well-being will thank you for it.
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