Exercising with hemorrhoids? On one hand, exercise can cause pain and irritation, worsening any hemorrhoid-related symptoms you already have. Strenuous activities and heavy lifting can cause hemorrhoids to swell, exacerbating the symptoms even more. On the other hand, a lack of exercise can also make matters worse. Sitting causes blood to pool, leading to engorged hemorrhoids and painful pressure in the anal region. Moreover, a lack of physical activity can contribute to constipation, worsening a current hemorrhoid, triggering a recurrence, or even causing new problems in those who never had a hemorrhoid before.
So what should you do to take care of yourself without making hemorrhoid symptoms worse?
The key is to not give up on exercise, instead, you need to pick the right exercise routine. Exercise can be critical for maintaining the physical and mental strength to effectively manage your hemorrhoid symptoms. We can help you learn a few tips and tricks for selecting a routine that works with your hemorrhoids, not against them.
Importance of Regular Exercise on Your Health and Well-Being
Exercise has a positive effect on many of your body systems, including keeping your digestive system functioning well. Not only does it keep your system “regular,” but it also helps with constipation, promotes colon health, and may even prevent some serious gastrointestinal diseases. Even the Washington Post has touted the benefits of exercise for colon health.
Other positive health effects include:
- Strengthening muscles, increasing flexibility, and improving balance
- Maintaining healthy joints and bones to prevent injuries
- Reducing body weight and reversing obesity
- Preventing or controlling hypertension and diabetes
- Reducing the risk of stroke or heart disease
- Mental health benefits
Dozens of studies have linked exercise with reducing the risk of colon cancer. One 2017 study put the number at 20 to 25 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer. Others show a reduction of risk from between 30 to 40 percent in sedentary adults who increased their physical activity by upping the intensity, duration, or frequency.
If you already had or currently have colon cancer, exercise may be even more important. Research shows that regular exercise could cut the risk of colon cancer recurrence in half, and improve the chances of survival for patients undergoing treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer.
The American Institute for Cancer Research, however, says many colon cancer survivors require supervision or a personalized plan with their specific needs in mind, so be sure to see your doctor before starting to exercise.
The Do’s of Exercising with Hemorrhoids
To get a great workout without exacerbating your hemorrhoid symptoms, consider these tips:
Choose the Right Cardiovascular Activities
Studies show cardiovascular exercises can actually help to counter inflammation in the body. This is 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.
Roll Back the Intensity of Your Workout
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, it’s especially important to find an exercise routine that encourages a positive outlook on life.
Keep It Up
Even if you need to alter your exercise routine while you have hemorrhoid symptoms – or more long term to prevent a recurrence – be sure you keep exercising regularly. Getting out of the habit is much easier than getting into the habit of working out. Set a goal and stick to it. Afterall, your health is worth it.
The Do NOTs of Exercising with Hemorrhoids:
When it comes to what not to do when exercising with a hemorrhoid, it is important to pay close attention to your body. Your body will tell you what you can do. Consider these tips:
Do Not Strain
Avoid activities that will heavily strain the muscles in your back and abdomen. Weightlifting can be particularly troublesome, as the tension can cause hemorrhoids to swell. Squats may be most detrimental in causing hemorrhoid difficulties.
Pay Attention to Pain
With any exercise 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. There are countless options to explore for burning calories and building muscle that won’t leave you in pain.
Don’t Overlook Diet and Hydration
Don’t forget your water bottle when you head to the gym. Water is crucial for preventing constipation, which can then lead to hemorrhoids or can worsen existing symptoms. The diet you eat between workouts is also key in keeping your body in its best shape. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can also work to prevent constipation. Talk with your doctor for more advice on how to find and maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine that fits your symptoms and fitness goals. Don’t Ignore Your Doctor’s Advice.
If your doctor’s advice is to take it slow for a few days, such as after stop exercising after hemorrhoid surgery, it is important you follow their advice. Your proctologist or colorectal surgeon is the expert on your case, because they understand your condition better than anyone else.
Putting Together an Exercise Program that Works for You — And Your Hemorrhoids
Before you can get started with a new exercise regime, you need to discuss your exercise goals and abilities with a doctor. This ensures you are not doing anything that would be dangerous to your well-being because of any pre-existing conditions. The type, duration, and intensity of exercise you will be able to do will vary depending on a number of factors including your health, age, and current activity level.
Then, consider what type of exercise you think you might enjoy. Swimming and walking are both great cardiovascular options you can do no matter if you have a hemorrhoid or not. Some types of group exercise classes will also be safe if you have a hemorrhoid. You may want to avoid biking, at least while your hemorrhoid is inflamed.
When it comes to strength-building, you may want to lift lighter weights for more repetitions instead of straining to lift heavy weights, which can increase your risk of hemorrhoids, hernias, and other concerns. There are many benefits to weightlifting, so don’t ignore this type of exercise.
Get Back to the Gym, With or Without Your Hemorrhoid Symptoms
If you do not already have a regular exercise routine, you should visit a doctor to prepare for a program that best fits your age and activity level. Or maybe you exercise regularly but want to modify your current exercise program to prevent irritating a current hemorrhoid or reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids again.
In Los Angeles, our team of proctologists can help you ensure you are healthy enough for vigorous exercise and offer advice about the types of exercise that might be right for you based on your current health and any medical concerns. Call us today at (310) 273-2310 to make an appointment and get started.