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It’s happened to the best of us. You’ve gone through the day with your hair up in the cutest ponytail. Tight, but super cute. As the hours pass, you feel tension in your head. When you bend down, your temples throb. When you turn your head around too fast, you feel a wave of pain across your forehead. Once you finally get home and pull your ponytail holder off of your head, just like that, you feel relief, but the remnants of discomfort still linger.

We’ve always heard that relying on ponytails is a bad idea because of the strain it can put on your strands (hellooooo, breakage!), but they’re also a no as a go-to style if you’re wearing them too tight and they’re causing you to have headaches. What is really behind such pain? According to neurologist Denise E. Chou, it could be one of two things: You’re either prone to migraine headaches, or the physical strain of your tight ponytails is messing with the nerves in your scalp.

“Patients don’t realize they have a migraine because it’s often undiagnosed,” Chou told Elle about women being prone to migraines and not realizing it. “It affects about 12 percent of the population and roughly about 18 percent of women.” As pointed out, being prone to migraines can make the nerves around your face and scalp very sensitive, a possible reason you may find your head hurting when you decide to do that topknot.

Derrick Salters/

Derrick Salters/

“When you put your hair in a tight bun or ponytail, or a weave or extensions, that will pull the nerves in the scalp” she said. “That pulling of the nerves will activate the sensory nerves even more. That can result in the headache itself, or it could be that the headache is beginning.”

She continued, “Putting your hair up shouldn’t be painful. But it can be perceived as painful during a migraine attack.”

Our first thought when we deal with these headaches is to pop an aspirin for quick relief. However, Chou told the publication that it’s not a good idea because such medication could make your headaches more painful in the future.

“You could get something called ‘rebound headaches’ or ‘medication overuse headaches,'” Chou said. “If you’re using these acute over the counter medications to abort headaches 10 or more days a month, that can cause headaches to get worse by increasing the pain receptors.”

And while there are supplements you can take to help with nerve hypersensitivity, Chou said the easiest option for you is to loosen up those ponytails and to not wear them every day.

So while Beyoncé’s infamous I Dream of Jeannie high ponytail at this year’s Met Gala was cute, you might want to go easy with such styles if you know your nerves are not ready for all the tug and pull.

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