Hemorrhoids are a type of inflamed vein found in the anal region. Frequent cycling can make this condition more difficult to manage because of the high level of pressure this activity can apply to the affected area.
Because approximately 75% of the population will experience hemorrhoids at some point in their lives, understanding how this condition may eventually impact their riding and what they may be able to do about it is a must for serious cyclists.¹
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There is a common misconception that cycling can cause hemorrhoids. Although this is generally not the case, there is a common link between cycling and hemorrhoids you may already be aware of.
Cycling does not directly cause hemorrhoids. However, this does not mean that it is the best type of exercise for individuals that are prone to hemorrhoids because cycling can further irritate hemorrhoids that already exist and make them more difficult to manage.
Sitting on a bicycle seat applies a significant amount of pressure to the area where hemorrhoids are found, meaning that frequent biking can make the hemorrhoids you already have even more painful and inflamed.
Bike seats are harder and smaller than other places you normally sit and combining these elements with the high amount of pressure that the seat puts on your anal region can result in a significantly lower level of blood flow to the area.
There is also a significant amount of friction between the seat and your hemorrhoids, and both of these situations can make existing hemorrhoids more difficult to manage.
This does not necessarily mean that you cannot ride a bike if you are prone to hemorrhoids, but you may want to consider taking additional steps to make cycling more comfortable for your anal region.
Hemorrhoids occur when the veins found in the anus and rectum become inflamed. This inflammation can lead to pain and bleeding within this area, especially when using the restroom. Although anyone can develop hemorrhoids, they are often caused by obesity, pregnancy, or other high levels of strain or pressure on these veins.
You may be able to reduce your risk of developing hemorrhoids by consuming a diet high in fiber, which can soften your stools and reduce the amount of strain needed when using the restroom.
Choosing a softer or wider seat may be helpful for some individuals with hemorrhoids, but this is not a one-size-fits-all solution that every biker will benefit from.
There are several seats available that are currently recommended for people with hemorrhoids. But some people may find that these options are only nominally better than standard bike seats or do not provide any relief at all, especially on longer bike trips.
Visiting a bicycle shop and speaking with an expert about your condition and the type of cycling you are most interested in is likely your best option for finding a bike seat that may help you return to the activity you love without aggravating your hemorrhoids as much.
Getting regular exercise can be a crucial step in preventing and managing hemorrhoids. But it is important to consider how various types of physical activity may impact the area that is prone to hemorrhoids.
You should generally avoid activities that put a high level of strain on your abdomen and back, such as squats and weightlifting. It is also important to listen to your body and stop any exercise that causes a significant amount of pain. The exercise that is the most problematic can vary from person to person.
No matter what type of physical activity seems to work well for you, staying hydrated while working out is a must when it comes to performing your best and avoiding unnecessary complications.
Several over-the-counter products can help to reduce your hemorrhoid symptoms. Some of the most common options include Preparation H, other creams that contain the same active ingredient, and pads that contain witch hazel.
You may also find relief by adding mineral oil to yogurt, applesauce, or another breakfast or lunch food with a similar consistency.
However, these are generally not ideal long-term solutions. You should see a doctor instead of continuing to take these medications if your hemorrhoids do not improve or keep coming back after treating them with over-the-counter remedies.
You also have several options for managing less severe hemorrhoid symptoms at home. Increasing your fiber intake is often the most significant step you can take when it comes to minimizing the severity of the symptoms you experience and making you less susceptible to developing future hemorrhoids.
This is generally best done by consuming more foods that are high in fiber. Taking a fiber supplement can also help you reach the recommended 20–30 grams of fiber consumed each day.
Other simple changes you can make that may help you lessen your hemorrhoid symptoms at home include:
Using the restroom as soon as you notice you need to, instead of waiting for a time that may be more convenient
Elevating your feet while using the restroom
Trying a sitz bath
Like over-the-counter medications, you should see a doctor if your symptoms do not improve after trying at-home hemorrhoid treatment options.
Some hemorrhoids go away on their own or after trying various at-home remedies, but you may still need to see a doctor if your symptoms persist or keep coming back. You should also see a doctor if you experience severe pain or bleeding that interferes with other aspects of your life.
Although cycling does not directly cause hemorrhoids, it can make them significantly more painful and difficult to manage. Serious bikers may be able to take advantage of several at-home treatment options or try special seats to make their symptoms more manageable.
Cycling and hemorrhoids | Road Bike Rider
6 self-help tips for hemorrhoid flare-ups | Harvard Health Publishing
Best bike seat for hemorrhoids: Comfy and supportive all the way! | The Mountain Bike
Exercising with hemorrhoids: The do's & don'ts | Los Angeles Colon & Rectal