Trying to find the cause of my headaches

First experiment: Seeing if not training two specific back/neck exercises will stop the headaches


Key terms:

  • Headache:
    • I don’t know which kind of headaches I have. Maybe it’s just tension headaches. Not sure…

I know that headaches can have many different causes, but I don’t know what the cause of my headaches are.

I always experience pain in these two areas simultaneously:

  1. Forehead
  2. Left side of face (Primarily above the left ear, but sometimes also down the neck behind the ear)

It seemed like the headaches were often worse the day after some specific back/neck exercises, so I tried stopping those for one month to see if the headaches would go away (I still continued other exercises for the back).

The two back/neck exercises I stopped doing were these:

An exercise I learned by my physiotherapist:

Dumbbell shrugs:

Data collection:

I used a mobile app to track my headaches.

  • There wasn’t any specific intervals at which I tracked.
  • I just tracked when:
    • I felt the pain for the first time of the day
    • The pain had changed
    • It was some time since I tracked it last time and I still experienced it
  • I might have forgotten to track it a few times. Not sure.


Baseline headaches:

  • Info
    • This was one month where I DID train the two back/neck exercises
  • Days with pain: 27
  • Average pain per day: 2.432098765432099

Headaches after not training neck:

  • Info
    • This was one month where I DIDN’T train the two back/neck exercises
    • But I also spend a week camping with my family where I almost didn’t use my computer for 5 of the days.
  • Days with pain: 21
  • Average pain per day: 2.469047619047619

Other analysis of the data

Tracking’s per hour:


Average pain per hour:


How does location affect the pain (And thereby what I sleep on)

  • Mom’s place
    • Days with pain: 19
    • Average pain per day: 2.3476190476190477
  • Dad’s place
    • Days with pain: 20
    • Average pain per day: 2.7017543859649122

Conclusion & Discussion

  • Stopping those specific back/neck exercises didn’t seem to have a significant impact on my headaches.
  • The pain is relatively constant throughout my day
    • But maybe slightly worse in the evening?
  • Whether I’m at my moms or dads place, and thereby which mattress & pillow I use, maybe doesn’t have a significant impact


  • I can only conclude that those specific back/neck exercises weren’t the ONLY cause of my headaches.
    • There might have been other contributing factors that wasn’t stopped in this experiments (Such as other back exercises that I still did)
  • In the part of my experiment where I stopped training some back/neck exercises I also went on camping for a week, where I used my computer way less than usual in 5 of the days.
    • During those 5 days I only had 1 day in the middle with a REALLY bad headache.
      • This might be why I “only” experienced headaches in 21 of the days of the month compared to 27 in the baseline month.
  • I made some analysis about whether I’m at my moms or dads place, to see if what I sleep on has an effect.
    • I concluded that maybe what I slept on didn’t have an effect, because my headaches were equally bad at both places.
      • But this could have been because the top mattress and pillow were bad at both places, so top mattress & pillow could still be a cause.
  • “Average pain per hour” goes down at hour 16 in the day, which is just after training and stretching.
    • Maybe stretching or movement helps?

Future experiments

These are some options:

  • Stopping all back exercises for a month
  • Stopping all bodybuilding for a month
  • Getting some new glasses, if eye strain is a cause
  • Don’t use computer or mobile for a month (Because when I used computer less for 5 days I only experienced headache on 1 of the 5 days)
  • Try some kind of stretching program that is recommended for headaches
  • Try some new pillow / pillow height / Top mattress combination
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Second experiment: Seeing if using the computer less will stop my headaches or reduce them


I want to see if using my computer less for 7 days would affect my headaches

Data collection

Tracked headaches with Track & Graph mobile app whenever I felt them.

Tracked computer usage automatically with RescueTime.


Baseline headaches:



Headaches when using computer less




I had fewer headaches when using the computer less


This was a very small sample size of 7 days only, so it could have been an incident, and does require more research.

Also the 7 days of using my computer less were in summerhouse with my family where I didn’t work, so the reason I had less headaches could also be reduced stress, more time with family or other parts of my lifestyle that were different.

Interestingly in the “Headaches when using computer less” graph there is a spike for headache the day after I used my computer more, so maybe I experience delayed muscle soreness, but this could also just have been an incident.

Future experiments

These are some options:

  • Use my computer less for a longer time than 7 days. Maybe a month?
  • Stopping all back exercises for a month
  • Stopping all bodybuilding for a month
  • Getting some new glasses, if eye strain is a cause
  • Try some kind of stretching program that is recommended for headaches
  • Try some new pillow / pillow height / Top mattress combination

If you want to do some day-to-day randomization, the Self-E app might be worth a look.

What do you mean with randomization? :slight_smile:

It might also be worth tracking your blood glucose levels. I used to suffer from migraines and managed to work out it was from dips in my glucose levels (I’m not diabetic).

What are your headaches like? Do you ever have blindspots / dizziness ?

I’ve discovered that it is most likely tension headaches I’m suffering from.
usually with migraine you headaches become worse with activity, but mine becomes better or the same, and you would usually experience other accompaying symptoms like dizziness and being sensitive to light, sound or smell, which I haven’t experienced.

At the moment I think the most likely causes of my headaches are stress, tense muscles around shoulders/neck or sitting in front of the computer a lot. Or maybe a mix of all of them

Some days you randomly chose to do A, other days you do B.

I also considered that. But I guess it wouldn’t work if the cause is something cumulative? Or maybe it wouldn’t work if the cause has a delayed effect? (Like delayed muscle soreness)

If the effect is cumulative, you can randomly alter conditions every week or month instead of every day.

Delayed effects shouldn’t be a problem, at least not if the delay is a constant one day (just need to “delay” the recording of the effect).