Best and Worst Exercises for Hemorrhoids
Enlarged or swollen anal veins can make it difficult to do many things, including get regular exercise. If you are in the habit of working out or exercising on a regular basis, having hemorrhoids doesn’t have to sideline you from such activities. In fact, regular exercise can reduce constipation and minimize issues with recurrence. Although, certain types of exercise can make the problem worse, so it’s important to be wise about choosing how you exercise.
Good Exercises for Hemorrhoids
When exercising to prevent hemorrhoids, the goal is to encourage regular bowel movements, improve circulation, and strengthen muscles in the pelvic area and lower back. Increased blood flow, in particular, boosts the delivery of beneficial nutrients and oxygen to the affected area. Exercises that are generally considered safe and effective for hemorrhoid management and prevention include:
- Walking and other cardiovascular exercises
- Treadmill or elliptical machine exercises
- Water-based exercises like swimming and water aerobics
- Exercises targeting the sphincter muscles
- Kegels and similar pelvic floor exercises
- Yoga and similar controlled-movement exercises to help strengthen abdominal and rectal tissues
Exercises to Avoid
If you’re among the estimated 10-15 million Americans currently living with hemorrhoids, there are certain exercises it’s best to avoid. For example, you might experience increased discomfort with horseback riding, cycling, rowing, and similar forms of exercise that tend to place pressure on sensitive areas. With weightlifting and gym-based exercises, routines that involve holding your breath while you push to exhale (the Valsalva maneuver) may make hemorrhoid pain worse. If you normally do strenuous workout routines, however, you may be able to modify your techniques so you’re not placing as much pressure on affected areas.
Preparing to Exercise When You Have Hemorrhoids
Regardless of what your preferences are with exercise, there are certain preparations that may reduce your risk of aggregating existing hemorrhoid-related discomfort. Staying hydrated, for instance, can prevent constipation from developing as you go through your exercise routine or workout. It can also be helpful to wear loose, breathable clothing so you’re not creating friction in affected areas.
After you finish exercising, change out of any clothing that’s wet from sweat to avoid irritation in areas where you normally have hemorrhoid issues. Taking a warm bath can also soothe the affected area or reduce your risk of developing new hemorrhoids. Some people with hemorrhoids also find what’s termed a sitz bath to be soothing. This is “bath” that’s done with a small plastic tub placed over a toilet seat so that only the buttocks and hips are submerged in water.