"Natural high" = good, right?
June 14, 2011 7:05 AM   Subscribe

I've recently discovered that when I stretch backwards with my arms above my head while holding my breath, I sometimes get a super-trippy laughing-gassy lightheaded rush for about (no longer than) ten seconds. So: How bad is this for me? Am I killing loads of brain cells?
posted by Jonathan Harford to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It can be dangerous - I once did that and blacked out for a couple of seconds and fell forward on a table and hit myself pretty hard. It happened without warning and nothing ever did this to me except for this exercise. I stopped doing it after that, but I don't think that aside from this risk, it's any more dangerous than any other breath exercises.
posted by rainy at 7:46 AM on June 14, 2011

If you want to trust a site with a smiley face for a logo, you've got about five minutes before lack of blood flow would permanently damage brain tissue, so ten seconds would be fine from that standpoint. (I'm going to assume that it's lack of blood flow and not extra blood flow.)
posted by anaelith at 7:53 AM on June 14, 2011

You're probably briefly occluding the blood flow to the brain. This isn't awesome, but unless you're doing it all the damn time, it's probably nothing to worry about. Even just getting up too quickly from a reclining position can do this for most people, and like in your situation, it's just a temporary consequence of fluid dynamics that it takes your body a few seconds to deal with.

If the lightheadedness persists or if you ever actually pass out, even briefly, you should consult a doctor.
posted by valkyryn at 8:21 AM on June 14, 2011

Wow, this happens to me, particularly if I've been sitting at the computer too long. Getting up from my desk, even just to go to the water cooler for a glass of water, helps reduce it immensely. While others' suggestions of seeing a doctor are probably a good idea, I'd also like to point out that you can substantially reduce the chance of this occurring if you get up and move around at regular intervals.
posted by LN at 8:30 AM on June 14, 2011

Response by poster: I've switched to a standing desk -- I should have mentioned this! -- so this is happening from a standing position.

Reduce the chance of this occurring? It's kinda nice!
posted by Jonathan Harford at 8:53 AM on June 14, 2011

Best answer: You're experiencing orthostatic hypotension. Falling is probably your biggest risk. I've got it pretty bad and I've never fallen or passed out.
posted by peep at 10:31 AM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

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