Exercising with hemorrhoids? You might find the whole idea to sound like a catch-22. On the one hand, exercise can seem to worsen any symptoms that you might have, related to hemorrhoids. Strenuous activities and heavy lifting can cause hemorrhoids to swell, exacerbating the symptoms. On the other hand, a lack of exercise can also make matters worse. Sitting still for an extended period of time can cause blood to pool, leading to painful pressure in the anal region. Moreover, a lack of exercise can actually cause constipation and worsen any associated hemorrhoids!
Hemorrhoids and Exercising
If you’re suffering with hemorrhoids, you may be scratching your head thinking, “I can’t live with exercise, but I can’t live without it.” With all this mind, what should you do to take care of yourself?
The key is to not give up on exercise- you just need to pick the right type! Exercise can be critical for maintaining a physical and mental strength to effectively manage your hemorrhoid symptoms. Below are a few tips and tricks for selecting a routine that works with your hemorrhoids, not against them.
The Do’s of Exercising with Hemorrhoids:
Find the right cardiovascular activities. Studies show that cardiovascular exercises can actually help to counter inflammation in the body- an important feature when you’ve got painful, swollen hemorrhoidal veins around the anus and rectum. Furthermore, cardiovascular activities trigger the release of “feel good” neurotransmitters called endorphins, which signal your body to block pain and reduce stress. Consider walking, hiking, swimming, dancing, or running- anything to keep your blood pumping and endorphins flowing.
Also, look for non-vigorous exercises that tone and strengthen your muscles. Yoga is a popular choice, not only for the physical health benefits, but also for the mental relaxation associated with the practice. Because hemorrhoids can take a toll on your mental health as well as your physical health (after all, there are social and emotional implications of living with hemorrhoids), it’s especially important to find an exercise routine that encourages a positive outlook on life. And, be sure to exercise regularly.
The Don’ts of Exercising with Hemorrhoids:
Avoid activities that will heavily strain your muscles in your back and abdomen. Weight lifting can be particularly troublesome, as the tension can cause hemorrhoids to swell.
With whichever exercises you try, pay special attention to how your body feels and avoid activities that cause you pain. Some people with hemorrhoids struggle with sitting activities like spinning and rowing, as they increase pressure to an already sore area of the body.
Also, don’t forget your water bottle when you’re getting sweaty at the gym! Water is crucial for preventing constipation, which can then lead to hemorrhoids, or can worsen existing hemorrhoids.
Remember: if your exercise routine is causing you pain, don’t do it! There are countless options to explore for burning calories and building muscle that won’t leave you sore in the wrong ways. Talk with your doctor for more advice on how to find and maintain a healthy exercise routine that fits with your symptoms and fitness goals.
Hemorrhoids And The Athlete: How To Keep Training
It is a simple fact that heavy resistance training and even endurance training increases our susceptibility to getting hemorrhoids. If you lift weights, you are in danger of developing hemorrhoids and that risk develops as you age. The age discussion becomes important as today’s athletes and those with active lifestyles are choosing to maintain these activities for a far longer basis, thus increasing your risk. At age fifty about half of us will have hemorrhoids. In addition to age, history of pregnancy and obesity are also primary risk factors. For the purposes of this article, we will skip discussion in regards to obesity as we are talking about athletes.
The textbook definition of hemorrhoids is enlarged veins in the anus. Once enlarged these hemorrhoids may become irritated, or even prolapse and become external hemorrhoids. In addition to pain and irritation hemorrhoids may cause bleeding or display as a bloody stool.
Having hemorrhoids is not a sentence to reduced activity level by any means. You can still be competitive and perform at the highest level, even in sports that create significant abdominal and blood pressure. It is not uncommon for high-level strength athletes such as weightlifters, powerlifters, or strongmen to deal with these symptoms. If you incorporate the proper techniques you can minimize the symptoms or even make them completely disappear. These tips also are quite effective in preventing the onset to begin with.
If you follow these guidelines there is no reason you should not be able to pursue your activity without full force and vigor.
- When lifting push air out against the abdominal wall, NOT down toward your anus.
- Stay hydrated during exercise.
- Ensure clothing choices don’t irritate the area (this is of particular importance for endurance or high-repetition athletes).
- Eat a diet high in fiber and increase fat intake (heart-healthy fats) to make a softer stool.
- Stay hydrated in general to soften stool.
- Avoid or thoroughly chew roughage, such as almonds or other nuts (this will severely aggravate existing conditions if irritated).
- Reduce salt intake to reduce swelling.
- Don’t strain/push while going to the bathroom.
- Don’t hold it when you need to go.
- Take a warm bath or a sitz bath (Only needs to be 2-4” deep to rest your bum in).
- Use moist toilettes to wipe.
- Don’t use over the counter anti-inflammatory such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
- See your doctor for any severe case or a persistent case that won’t diminish after two weeks.
These simple steps are highly effective in dealing with the symptoms of hemorrhoids, and many can be used as preventative measures as well. I can personally attest to the effectiveness of these methods as a strength athlete with hemorrhoids. By following these methods I am able to squat and deadlift over 700 lbs on a weekly basis and rarely have any symptoms.
Can You Exercise With Hemorrhoids?
Exercise provides many health benefits. It boosts your cardiovascular and respiratory health, strengthens muscles, improves immunity and burns calories. Regular physical activity is also known to promote regular bowel movements, which can prevent hemorrhoids and even help them heal. However, certain types of exercise could make hemorrhoids worse. Having hemorrhoids need not deter you from exercising, as long as you take care to exercise wisely.
The main purpose of exercise in hemorrhoid prevention and management is to promote normal bowel movements, which in turn can prevent constipation and straining when you are trying to pass stool. In addition, exercise can strengthen muscles and improve blood flow, helping to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the affected area – which can reduce inflammation and promote healing. Most types of cardiovascular exercise, including walking, treadmill or swimming can work well and should not aggravate discomfort. Yoga or similar exercises can improve muscle tone and strengthen abdominal and rectal tissue. Exercises that tone and strengthen your sphincter muscles may also help – such as tightening and relaxing your buttocks muscle while you are standing or sitting.
If you currently suffer from hemorrhoids, avoid any activities that cause you to have more pain or discomfort. For instance, horseback riding, cycling or rowing may worsen discomfort by placing extra pressure on sensitive areas. In addition, heavy lifting or related activities may worsen hemorrhoids by increasing pressure in the abdominal or rectal areas. Exercises that use the Valsalva maneuver -holding your breath while pushing to exhale, common in weightlifting – may also worsen hemorrhoids. However, if you suffer from hemorrhoids and already include strenuous exercise or weightlifting in your routine, you may be able to modify your lifting technique to minimize risk. Also, ask your doctor for personalized advice regarding any exercise restrictions.
If eating more fiber, drinking more fluids and exercise aren’t enough to promote soft stools and avoid constipation, your doctor may recommend stool softeners. In addition, soothing agents or pain relievers may be advised to help manage the discomfort and pain of hemorrhoids. Sometimes hemorrhoids require procedures or surgery to cut off the blood supply, so be sure to follow-up with your doctor if you have continued pain or bleeding. Also, blood in the stool can be a sign of something more serious, including cancer, so don’t ignore this symptom. If you have bloody or maroon stools, see a doctor right away.