Hemorrhoids are more common than most people know. According to a 1989 survey carried out by the National Library of Medicine, an estimated 23 million adults, approximately 13% of the US population, were diagnosed with hemorrhoids in the previous year.¹
Knowing that you can be susceptible to hemorrhoids if you haven't already suffered from them may provoke questions. So here are some answers to questions you may have regarding hemorrhoids, such as what causes them, the symptoms, and how exercising will affect aggravated hemorrhoids.
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Yes, you can exercise with hemorrhoids as long as the exercises don't continue to produce added pressure on the anal canal. To understand this concept, you must know how hemorrhoids occur and why specific exercises may relieve or exacerbate symptoms.
Hemorrhoids, or piles, are veins that become swollen and irritated due to a variety of reasons. However, sometimes they become aggravated or enlarged for various reasons.
Some causes of hemorrhoids can be prevented or mitigated if you know the reasons that may produce aggravation or enlargement.
One of the ways you can avoid or minimize the risk of developing hemorrhoids is by maintaining a healthy weight. The veins in the anal canal, rectum, and anus are susceptible to aggravation from any excess pressure. In addition, being overweight puts extra strain on the veins, causing irritation and swelling.
Hemorrhoids can also be under excess stress or pressure if you sit on the toilet for too long. The shape of the toilet seat can create extra pressure on the veins and cause them to become injured. Sitting on the toilet seat for more than 5 or 10 minutes, consistently over time, can cause hemorrhoids.
Dehydration and low fiber intake can cause chronic constipation, which can cause the onset of hemorrhoids. Hydrating yourself diligently throughout the day will reduce the risk of constipation and hard stools. In addition, introducing more fiber into your diet, or supplementing your diet with powder fiber supplements, will help.
Other causes of hemorrhoids that you may not be able to prevent but should know of include:
Lifting heavy objects regularly
Chronic straining during bowel movements due to constipation
Pregnancy and natural childbirth
Weakening tissue with aging
Symptoms can range from an annoyance of itching to enduring severe pain that makes sitting uncomfortable. Other symptoms can include:
The feeling of burning around the anus area
Bleeding with or without pain
A sensation of something pushing against the anus
A sense of bowels not being totally empty even after using the toilet
Oozing of mucus or stool, especially when passing gas
Exercise can heal hemorrhoids faster and help prevent them from happening in the first place. The healthy blood flow during exercise delivers nutrients and oxygen to unhealthy hemorrhoids, helping to heal them faster.
Exercise, at times, can help prevent hemorrhoids from developing. Moderate activity can help regulate your digestive and bowel functions to avoid constipation, improving your overall digestive health and relieving emotional stress that can trigger digestive ailments.
However, any action that causes pressure to your abdomen, such as weightlifting squats, is not ideal for preventing hemorrhoids.
If you are experiencing hemorrhoid symptoms, exercising is the last thing you may think to do. However, exercising can get you over the symptoms faster and get you back to feeling better sooner. Exercises for hemorrhoids help soothe the symptoms, while others allow you to heal more quickly. Here are some activities to consider if you are afflicted with hemorrhoids.
The practice of yoga is a spiritual practice stemming from eastern Indian or Hindu philosophy. Yoga poses can stimulate physical health and mental well-being. For example, in the case of preventing hemorrhoids or relieving hemorrhoid symptoms, some yoga poses focus on promoting the abdomen, colon, anal canal, and hemorrhoid health.
The legs-up-the-wall pose helps provide better blood circulation to the anus and simultaneously relieves symptoms of hemorrhoids. It can also help prevent hemorrhoids by reducing stress from straining during bowel movements.
The bound angle pose in shoulder stand prevents hemorrhoids by reducing pressure, relieving digestive discomfort, and offering relief from hemorrhoid pain.
The wind-relieving pose (Pawanmuktasana) relieves painful digestive issues such as constipation and flatulence.
The wind-relieving pose also helps relieve flatulence problems, constipation, and pain from hemorrhoids.
This form of exercise has existed for over 100 years, developed by Joseph Pilates as a form of injury recovery for dancers. It increases flexibility, muscle tone, and strength.
Even if you have symptomatic hemorrhoids, you don't have to stop strengthening your core with pilates exercises. You can choose pilates exercises that don't put pressure on uncomfortable places and relax the rectum.
Improving blood circulation speeds up healing processes and alleviates symptoms by reducing inflammation. For hemorrhoids, this is no different. Cardiovascular activities can relieve hemorrhoid symptoms faster, heal them sooner, and even prevent hemorrhoids.
Cardiovascular exercises that can help are:
Exercises that involve warm water will help alleviate hemorrhoid pain. In addition, swimming and water aerobics work the muscle groups involved in digestive function. Strengthening these muscles will help improve digestive health and prevent constipation.
Gynecologist Arnold Kegal developed this exercise to strengthen the pelvic floor and smooth muscle along the anal canal up to the sphincter with the purpose of preventing prolapsed hemorrhoidal tissues and urinary continence.³ ⁴
Kegel exercises are the simple act of contracting, holding, and then relaxing your pelvic floor muscles to strengthen the muscles and improve blood circulation.
Cardiovascular exercise helps relieve symptoms faster and provides a preventative benefit to avoiding hemorrhoids, making it the best all-around exercise for hemorrhoids.
As mentioned before, repeatedly lifting heavy objects is one cause of hemorrhoids. Not only can repeat heavy lifting cause hemorrhoids, but it can make hemorrhoid symptoms worse too.
If you have hemorrhoids, you should also avoid sports that require sitting, like cycling or rowing, until your hemorrhoids heal.
Here are some home remedies for relieving the symptoms of hemorrhoids:
CBD or vitamin E
Epsom salt paste
If you are typically physically active, you shouldn't have to be slowed down by hemorrhoids. However, knowing what exercises you can do despite suffering from hemorrhoids will help you continue your physically active lifestyle without interruption.
6 best yoga poses & exercises to deal with piles | Pharma Easy
Hemorrhoids | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Everything you need to know about hemorrhoids | Temple Health
Yoga: What you need to know | National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
The Hindu roots of yoga | Hindu American Foundation
Can yoga act as relief for piles? | The Laser Gastroenterology Clinic
Yoga asanas for gastric problems | The Art of Living
How to exercise when you have hemorrhoids | Los Angeles Hemorrhoid Clinic
Exercising with hemorrhoids: The do's & don'ts | Los Angeles Colon and Rectal