Migraines can be a debilitating condition, and for sufferers the thought of participating in physical activity such as hiking can be grueling. The good news is that it is possible for those who are suffering from migraines to enjoy safe hiking-based activities without increasing the likelihood of experiencing a debilitating attack.

There are a variety of factors that must be taken into account to ensure the safety of those with migraines when hiking. The primary concern is preventing or reducing the likelihood of a migraine attack occurring. This guide will explain some of the top tips for safe hiking when suffering from migraines, including exercise, nutrition, resting, equipment, and hydration.


It may seem logical to some that walking or participating in similar aerobic activities could increase the likelihood of experiencing a migraine attack. However, research has shown that the opposite is actually true- moderate intensity exercise can reduce the risk of migraine attacks in the long-term.

This finding is promising to migraine sufferers, allowing them to participate in aerobic activities such as hiking without too much worry. However, it’s important to ensure that the exercise is moderate in intensity and that the activity does not go on for too long. Experts also recommend that the duration and intensity of the exercise is gradually increased over time. Planning an appropriate pace and length for the route is key to preventing overexertion that could trigger migraines. It’s also a good idea to try and keep to a consistent time and pace of exercise.


Nutrition also plays a major role in preventing migraines during hikes. Overeating, not eating at all, or eating foods that are acidic can all result in a migraine attack. Migraine sufferers need to be mindful of their diet, especially before and during hiking activities. Sufferers should aim to consume small meals and snacks that are low-acid at least two hours before starting a moderate-intensity hike.

Eating on the go while hiking is also important for preventing migraines. It’s a good idea to pack a variety of low-acid foods such as nuts, dried fruit, raw fruits, peanut butter or almond butter, cheese, whole grain bread, meat, tuna, yogurt, and trail mix. It’s also important to stay adequately hydrated by drinking plenty of water or a low-caffeine option such as decaf green tea or herbal tea.


It is also important to build in ample time for rest and to stay relaxed while hiking. Taking several short fifteen-minute breaks during the hike can help to prevent pain and discomfort. These breaks are also a good opportunity to stretch and meditate to encourage relaxed muscles. However, it’s important not to overdo it when it comes to resting. The goal is to maintain a steady pace and heart rate as much as possible.


Investing in the right equipment is also essential for anyone suffering from migraines looking to hike safely. All clothing, gear, and backpacks must be lightweight and properly designed. This will help to reduce neck, back, shoulder, and head muscle tension which can bring on a migraine.

An eye mask, visor, and sunglasses can help to reduce glare and prevent migraines. It may also be helpful to pack a migraine relief kit before heading out on a hike, including items such as cold packs, cold eye mask, or Personal Sound Amplification Devices.


Lastly, maintaining proper hydration is crucial for anyone looking to hike safely, but especially those suffering from migraines. It’s suggested that hikers drink about 16 ounces of water about 2 hours before beginning the hike. It’s also important to bring along enough water for the hike to stay properly hydrated. Hikers should aim to drink about 4-8 ounces of water twice an hour, or approximately 1 litre (32oz) per hour.

It’s also a good idea to have a low-caffeine option, such as decaf green tea and/or herbal tea, for hydration. Low-caffeine options are better than high-caffeine drinks such as coffee and energy drinks, which can trigger migraines.


As is clear from this guide, it is certainly possible for those suffering with migraines to hike safely. Following these tips for exercise, nutrition, resting, equipment, and hydration will help those suffering from migraines to prevent or alleviate attacks while out on the trails. With proper planning and care, hikers can greatly improve their overall hiking experience.