I was using the punchbag at the gym early on Saturday morning, just jab-straight combinations and trying to work on power for the second punch. What I experienced was a pain in my head when I hit the bag full force each time. It was early but I don't think I was dehydrated, and I was just using weightlifting gloves rather than boxing gloves. I wasn't whipping back the second punch, trying to follow through instead with my body weight going forwards.

I was wondering if anybody else has experienced anything similar to this. Am I absorbing some of the impact somehow, like a recoil? Would boxing gloves be a more sensible idea for me?

UPDATE: No issues this weekend. I would say it was down to dehydration that morning. Exhaling as the punch lands, as suggested, worked great. I'm pretty sure I was doing that previously, so it must have been dehydration.

Thanks again!

  • Care to explain the downvote? Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 12:58
  • Most likely because there's a general tendency for people to downvote what they feel are "ask a doctor" questions. But that's just my guess.
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 13:00
  • Probably. Though if other people experience this without boxing gloves then chances are it is to be expected and not a health issue. Hence my asking lol Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 13:37
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    Do you remember if you were holding your breath during the straight punch? Common technique among untrained people using a heavy bag is to hold their breath during hard punches. This can spike the blood pressure, and lead to headaches.
    – JohnP
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 17:51
  • Thanks John. I'm pretty sure I exhaled hard as I struck the bag. I used to do karate so I would hope my breathing was correct. I'll pay attention later this week though. Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 9:45

1 Answer 1


Standard comment when people complain about pain when performing their exercise, especially when it involves your head or chest, schedule an appointment with your doctor to be sure it's not a health problem.

That said, the idea of recoil is a decent guess. If this is a one-time thing, it's possible that you had a headache that was only becoming evident when you got some shock into your system. Outside of that, are you breathing correctly, either breathing normally or exhaling sharply with the hits? My experience is that many people either hold their breath or try to release it at a constant rate through the punching. That can raise your blood pressure and heart rate, which can cause headaches. Usually, you'll also get a bit more of a flush to your face from the strain.

  • It felt more like recoil to me. I'll try it this weekend with/without some boxing gloves and see if there is a difference. Would be great to learn of some other peoples' experiences. Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 13:40
  • I've personally never experienced headaches from punching a bag other than the occasional "already have a headache and exertion is making it worse" sort. As with JohnP's comment above and my own, consider your breathing. When doing successive punches, it can be difficult to remember to breathe openly throughout them. The natural tendency is to contract your core and hold some breath until you are completed.
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 14:57
  • @VictorySaber - I've also never experienced headaches when on the bag. I've been doing karate/tkd since 1986.
    – JohnP
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 22:11
  • @VictorySaber: Did you ever figure out whether the presence of gloves made a difference?
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 12:04
  • Sorry but I did not actually put on the box gloves to check. Perhaps this weekend I shall. I got talking to an interesting chap which zapped half of my workout time! Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 8:30

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