There is no better hair-do than a ponytail. It keeps the hair off your face, you can just throw it up and not really care what it looks like, and it can hide some unwashed hair if you forgot to wash your hair one day. However, keep that ponytail in too long and you may experience a major headache. This got me wondering as to why this happens. Is it the way the hair pulls up on the scalp, or is it something more? Dr. Denise E Chou, neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center specializes in treating headaches and has figured out the mystery behind headaches and ponytails.
Chou claims that people who experience headaches while wearing ponytail are most likely already migraine-prone. Since migraines are rarely diagnosed, people (especially women who wear ponytails) often don’t realize this may be the source of their pain. Migraine prone people have more sensitivity around the face and scalp, and when pulled with the ponytail may lead to headaches. Ponytails are not meant to be painful, and therefore, this perception of pain due to an otherwise non-painful stimulus is called cutaneous allodynia. Putting your hair up shouldn’t be painful, but it can be perceived as painful when a migraine or headache happens while your hair is up.
Even those who aren’t migraine prone may still experience headaches while your hair is up. This is because when your hair is up or in a tight bun, the strain of the nerves around the face will pull, similarly to those who are migraine-prone, and cause pain.
In order to reduce the amount of ponytail headaches you may get, you can simply try taking it out and wearing your hair down, or doing a loose ponytail or bun which won’t pull of the nerves as much – like Beyonce.