If you regularly lift weights, you know two of the most important things to check are your form and breathing. And if you need another reason to focus on either, there's this fact: Doing either improperly could potentially put you at risk of developing hemorrhoids.
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Hemorrhoids are caused when veins near your anus become swollen. This often occurs when you're straining and placing excessive pressure on the abdomen (like when you're trying to lift a too-heavy weight and not breathing properly).
Consider talking to a doctor or personal trainer to determine if you're breathing properly when lifting weights to prevent the development of hemorrhoids. If you already have hemorrhoids, your doctor may suggest you avoid weight lifting while your hemorrhoids heal to prevent further irritation.
Hemorrhoids From Lifting Heavy Objects
When you get a hemorrhoid from weight lifting, it's because you're not lifting the weight properly. When you hold your breath while lifting and push the breath toward your anus, this puts pressure on your anus, as if you were straining with constipation.
Straining and holding your breath while lifting weights could cause the veins near your anus to become swollen and possibly poke through your anus, resulting in uncomfortable hemorrhoids. Grunting and holding your breath as you lift weights forces the air in your lungs downward, putting pressure on your internal organs and the veins in your rectum.
Other activities and conditions besides lifting can lead to hemorrhoids. Some of these include pregnancy, chronic diarrhea or constipation, and obesity. Your chances of developing hemorrhoids increase with age because the tissues around your anus begin to weaken, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Weight Lifting With Hemorrhoids
So can you lift weights with a hemorrhoid? If you already have hemorrhoids, your doctor may suggest that you discontinue lifting weights while you are healing depending on the severity of your symptoms.
If you have a hemorrhoid that's causing only mild to moderate pain, take it easy at the gym. Lower the amount of weight you're lifting and focus on using proper form instead. If you're experiencing a severe flare-up that includes anal bleeding, avoid all vigorous exercise until the bleeding stops.
The exertion of weight lifting could increase the pressure in your abdomen, which may lead to a worsening of your hemorrhoid symptoms. However, you may still be able to use an elliptical or go for a swim, which gives you a full-body workout without straining your hemorrhoids, but always listen to your body — and your doctor.
Prevent Hemorrhoids Caused by Weight Lifting
A regular weight-lifting routine doesn't have to lead to hemorrhoids. If you practice proper breathing during exercise, you can prevent hemorrhoids when lifting heavy objects and weights.
Avoid holding your breath and pushing in the direction of your anus as you lift weights. Instead, take a breath before lifting, then hold your breath and push the air in the direction of your throat as you lift, exhaling completely after each rep.
And focus on lifting weights properly. To pick up the weight, bend your knees and keep your back straight as you're reaching for it. Keep your perineal and torso muscles contracted during this. Press up from the floor using your quadriceps and glutes, but not your back. Continue to keep your back straight while lifting and exhale.
In addition to exercise, maintaining a healthy diet with high-fiber foods (and possibly supplements) will help prevent hemorrhoids by keeping your stool softer and bowel movements regular. Stay hydrated to further prevent constipation.
Exercise for Hemorrhoids
Regular exercise is beneficial if you have hemorrhoids or are prone to them. While weight lifting with hemorrhoids might be contraindicated, yoga and walking are good forms of exercise that can help you prevent and relieve hemorrhoid symptoms.
Exercise may also help with the underlying issues that cause hemorrhoids such as obesity or sitting too long. Try taking a 30-minute walk each morning to help prevent hemorrhoids, suggests Harvard Health Publishing, and perform Kegel exercises throughout the day by contracting and releasing your perineal muscles several times.
Other Hemorrhoid Treatments
If you're dealing with a painful hemorrhoid, you can typically relieve the discomfort at home. In fact, if you're able to relieve symptoms at home, you may not need to seek further medical treatment, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Start by applying an over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream or use a suppository that contains hydrocortisone. Alternatively, you can use pads that contain witch hazel or another numbing agent. Buy a sitz bath, which fits over a toilet and is sold at most drugstores, and soak your bottom in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes two to three times a day.
Keep the anal area clean but don't use soap, a this can aggravate the hemorrhoid. After a bowel movement, use moist towelettes or non-fragranced wet toilet paper. Avoid scratching your hemorrhoids as this can cause further damage and discomfort.
Although rare, you may experience severe complications from your hemorrhoids, such as anemia or a strangulated hemorrhoid, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you experience rectal bleeding or extreme pain, consult your doctor.