How To Avoid Headaches Caused By Motorcycle Helmets

wearing helmets

Why wearing a motorcycle helmet causes headaches and how to avoid them?


Why Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet Might Cause Headaches

The cranial neuralgia headaches exhibit constant head pain that is usually experienced in the area that is under the pressure. This pain will tend to increase with time but will also disappear within an hour of relieving the said pressure. However, if the cause should remain in place for longer periods, the result can be full blown migraine attacks.

The fact that this type of headache is not associated with any other symptoms, thus requiring no further investigations. A study was carried out in line with this type of headache with police officers who wore helmets in their daily patrols.

A sample of 82 police officers who had visited the military hospital’s neurology department on using the helmets on at least 3 incidents between the year 2000 and 2002 was used. An examination by a neurologist did rule out any neurological abnormalities for inclusion in this study. The sample of 82 was made up of 79 men and 3 women ranging from ages 19 to 35 in years.

The findings were that the sample used developed headaches within one hour of putting on a helmet and the headache had similar characteristics. Further observation revealed that the same headaches seem to go away within an hour of removing the helmet and more so no other symptoms seemed to accompany the complaints.

Headaches can be caused by wearing helmets and as classified by the international headache society; the external compression headache is a type of cranial neuralgia. This is because a headache results from the pressure that is external when applied over a person’s head.

wearing helmets

This kind of headache is unique in that the moment the helmet is removed the aches resolve themselves. This type of external compression headache though not common results when the coetaneous nerves are continuously stimulated by application of pressure on the scalp or a person’s forehead. This type of headache results mostly from adorning tight head gears around the head. For instance; adorning tight sports goggles, tight hat, tight band and even and helmets.

The sample group was also not able to get any relief from medication used in the past to relieve pain previously. The experiment also revealed that continual wear of the helmet caused a pulsating headache which displayed photophobia together with nausea. These patients if they stayed for longer with the helmets, relief was not gained by removing the helmet alone but also ingesting medication to relieve a headache together with some rest.

How to Avoid

The answer is simple: you need to wear a helmet that is fit and comfortable on your head

Comfort and Safety

Shoei helmet

It is common sense that helmets are worn to provide safety to the wearer but then again when purchasing the same comfort will and should come hand in hand with safety. This is because a helmet that doesn’t feel comfortable will really not offer that much value to the wearer despite how safe it may seem.

A motorcyclist needs to remain alerted all the while he is riding which can be enhanced if he is a comfortable helmet. This is due to the high levels of concentration free from any distractions that a motorcyclist requires.

When a motorcycle helmet turns uncomfortable to the wearer, it can be considered a risk and a safety hazard. An uncomfortable helmet will also cause endless headaches which can be migraines if the helmet continues to apply pressure on the wearer. According to hurts study on what causes motorcycle accidents, it is apparent that lack of concentration is the cause of a bigger number of these accidents

What Makes a Helmet Comfortable

A comfortable helmet is meant to feel like a second skin and the wearer should not take notice of the same, there are a number of factors to determine how comfortable a helmet is:

  • The lining: The lining of the helmet should feel comfortable against the wearer’s skin.
  • The padding: The helmet should be padded to cushion the motorcyclists head from the helmet internals.
  • ​The shape: the helmet’s internal shape should be a perfect fit to the wearer and thus should be matching his head. Poorly shaped helmets can have protruding structures that may press into the sensitive areas of the wearer’s head causing headaches.
  • ​A good chin strap: This should be comfortable yet smooth to the neck.
  • Visor: The helmet should also have an adjustable visor to allow free flow of air as well as not obscure vision.

Testing the Comfort of Your Helmet

One hour of riding with a helmet is what it takes to determine how comfortable a helmet is but notably though is the fact that the first few minutes will feel uncomfortable.

  • Try to feel and be aware of any pressure points during the testing time.
  • Ensure the helmet has enough room on the front-to-back to the chin isn’t pressing against the chin bar on the inside.
  • Clench the teeth to ensure there is enough room for one’s comfort.


Getting one’s head shape is essential in getting a fitting helmet that will feel comfortable and enhance safety. There are five basic categories of head shapes and the most common are round and oval. These shapes will work in symmetry with jawlines, cheekbones, foreheads and the neck in providing a comfortable and perfect fit for a helmet.


However, manufacturers are currently moving towards the production of neutral internal shapes meant to fit any head shape recently and the reason why most helmets will be round, oval or neutral. However, the internal fit of a helmet can be modified by use of different cheek pads. It is recommended to purchase a motorcycle helmet from a well-established manufacturer since they have an idea what it entails towards getting a good and comfortable helmet that doesn’t cause headaches​.