The swelling of anal veins in and around the anus and inside the rectum is the problem known to many as hemorrhoids.
Symptoms of external hemorrhoids are itchiness and swelling resulting in pain and discomfort, which can be extreme in some cases. Internal hemorrhoids will often go unnoticed generally, that is until traces of bright red blood is spotted on the toilet paper after a bowel movement.
Hemorrhoids often appear after straining and often after other periods of increased pressure on the lower part of the body; this involves things like sitting on the toilet for a very long time or, and the most obvious, straining when trying to have a bowel movement. Some other common causes are pregnancy, and the weakening of muscle and connecting tissues as we grow older.
The best thing an individual can do in order to reduce the chance of developing hemorrhoids apart from changing their diet, is to improve blood flow and strengthen muscles and connective tissues that are located in the pelvic and anal area. The best way to do this is through exercise – but will strenuous exercise cause hemorrhoids?
Can Exercise Cause Hemorrhoids?
There are many exercises that will cause individuals to place excessive strain on their lower regions, these types of exercise can most definitely cause hemorrhoids and make an already existing situation much worse.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that any type of heavy resistance training and to a lesser extent, training for endurance will heighten the chances of an individual suffering from hemorrhoids at some point.
Weightlifting and hemorrhoids are pretty common bedfellows because of the straining involved whilst lifting and holding one’s breathe. Holding your breathe and groaning/shouting/grunting whilst lifting weight forces the air to the bottom of your lungs and this in turn puts extra pressure on your other internal organs and the veins in your anal region. Unfortunately the problem of hemorrhoids becomes ever more frequent as you get older particularly if you continue to train, with nearly half of us expected to suffer with them by the time we reach 50!
However, having just said that certain types of exercise will put you at a greater risk of developing hemorrhoids, I will also say that exercising on a regular basis is highly recommended as being one of the best ways of stopping, as well as preventing hemorrhoids.
We can look at exercise and its relationship with hemorrhoids in two ways. Firstly, as something that is done in such a way that it minimizes the chance of developing hemorrhoids. In other words; exercise with hemorrhoids prevention in mind. Secondly, exercising to get relief from existing hemorrhoids.
Best Exercises for Hemorrhoids Prevention
There are a number of exercises and fitness techniques that will help prevent hemorrhoids from ever becoming a problem, here are just a few:
Non-strenuous Cardiovascular Exercise
The whole point of cardio vascular exercise is that it helps improve your blood circulation which in turn promotes a healthier body. Improved circulation to your anal area in particular will significantly reduce the chances of developing the blood clots which form into painful hemorrhoids and the improved blood flow will also promote quicker healing.
Types of exercise that fall within this specific cardiovascular group are jogging, walking and swimming. Doing any of these exercises for at least 30 minutes a day will drastically help reduce the chances of developing hemorrhoids, especially if you manage to avoid sitting and standing for prolonged periods as well.
Performing yoga stretches that focus on the stomach and upper legs are excellent for helping blood flow to the rectal area thus reducing the chance of hemorrhoids and improving healing time.
Kegel Exercises for Hemorrhoids
Kegel exercises are more commonly known as pelvic floor exercises and are used to strengthen the “Kegel muscles” which are the muscles of the pelvic floor which, for those looking to prevent hemorrhoids, include the muscles of the anal triangle.
One simple Kegel exercise that will strengthen your anal muscles is to contract your anal muscle and then hold for a few seconds, you can repeat this as many times as you want, 10 should be more than enough though, and you should try to do this three or four times every day.
Using kegel exercises to strengthen anal muscles will minimize the chance of an internal hemorrhoid becoming external and will again improve blood circulation.
Exercises that will Help Alleviate an Existing Hemorrhoid Problem
Whether you have external hemorrhoids or internal hemorrhoids there is an exercise that will help relieve the problem and, in some cases, get rid of it altogether.
Exercise for Internal Hemorrhoids
Torso Circles: Torso circles reduce the amount of blood in the swollen veins inside the rectum therefore eliminating internal hemorrhoids. The exercise helps drain the veins by centrifuge and has often been prescribed by Doctors as an effective, drug free method of curing internal hemorrhoids.
How to Perform the Torso Circle exercise
- Take up a push-up position (in the up part of the exercise, arms fully extended and body straight) with the soles of your feet pushed firmly against a wall, or something that won’t budge.
- Quickly rotate your torso three or four times in one direction then the same number of times in the opposite direction. You can build up the number of rotations you perform in each direction as you feel more able to and up to whatever you feel is necessary.
- It is also helpful if you hold your stomach in whilst performing this exercise.
- Repeat three times a day.
Exercise for External Hemorrhoids
The pain experienced from external hemorrhoids can be relieved by reducing the swelling of the offending anal vein. The easiest way to do this is by improving the blood flow and an exercise that will help do this is ‘reach for the stars’ which is basically an adaptation of the yoga forward bend.
How to Perform Reach for the Stars Forward Bends
- Stand upright on your toes with your arms pointing towards the sky.
- Remaining on your toes slowly bend forward until your hands touch the floor.
- Slowly return to your original starting position and repeat.
- Remember to perform the exercise under complete control and do not rush it.
- Perform this exercise everyday, once in the morning and once in the evening and your external hemorrhoids will eventually disappear and as your sphincter muscle strengthen you will become less prone to hemorrhoids in the future.
Exercises that should be Avoided by Hemorrhoid Sufferers
Any exercise or activity that causes increased pain and discomfort to hemorrhoid sufferers should be avoided. Exercises that will increase pressure on the rectal area are likely to be those that cause the most frequent problems, these include cycling, rowing and horse riding.
Weightlifting is the exercise that is most commonly associated with causing hemorrhoids due to the process of holding your breath and then pushing whilst exhaling which is known as the Valsalva maneuver which places a lot of pressure on the anal region.
If you desperately need to carry on weightlifting then practicing the correct breathing techniques whilst doing so will reduce the possibility of developing hemorrhoids significantly. Consult your doctor or speak to a professional weight trainer about the correct breathing techniques to use when working out with weights.
Hemorrhoids needn’t be a nail in the coffin of your exercise regimen, far from it. Exercise is vital in relieving the symptoms of hemorrhoids and in preventing them ever occurring. Just be sensible about what and how much you do, and get some good sound advice, particularly when in comes to lifting weights.