Hemorrhoids And The Athlete: How To Keep Training
It is a simple fact that heavy resistance training and even endurance training increases our susceptibility to getting hemorrhoids. If you lift weights, you are in danger of developing hemorrhoids and that risk develops as you age. The age discussion becomes important as today’s athletes and those with active lifestyles are choosing to maintain these activities for a far longer basis, thus increasing your risk. At age fifty about half of us will have hemorrhoids. In addition to age, history of pregnancy and obesity are also primary risk factors. For the purposes of this article, we will skip discussion in regards to obesity as we are talking about athletes.
The textbook definition of hemorrhoids is enlarged veins in the anus. Once enlarged these hemorrhoids may become irritated, or even prolapse and become external hemorrhoids. In addition to pain and irritation hemorrhoids may cause bleeding or display as a bloody stool.
Having hemorrhoids is not a sentence to reduced activity level by any means. You can still be competitive and perform at the highest level, even in sports that create significant abdominal and blood pressure. It is not uncommon for high-level strength athletes such as weightlifters, powerlifters, or strongmen to deal with these symptoms. If you incorporate the proper techniques you can minimize the symptoms or even make them completely disappear. These tips also are quite effective in preventing the onset to begin with.
If you follow these guidelines there is no reason you should not be able to pursue your activity without full force and vigor.
- When lifting push air out against the abdominal wall, NOT down toward your anus.
- Stay hydrated during exercise.
- Ensure clothing choices don’t irritate the area (this is of particular importance for endurance or high-repetition athletes).
- Eat a diet high in fiber and increase fat intake (heart-healthy fats) to make a softer stool.
- Stay hydrated in general to soften stool.
- Avoid or thoroughly chew roughage, such as almonds or other nuts (this will severely aggravate existing conditions if irritated).
- Reduce salt intake to reduce swelling.
- Don’t strain/push while going to the bathroom.
- Don’t hold it when you need to go.
- Take a warm bath or a sitz bath (Only needs to be 2-4” deep to rest your bum in).
- Use moist toilettes to wipe.
- Don’t use over the counter anti-inflammatory such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
- See your doctor for any severe case or a persistent case that won’t diminish after two weeks.
These simple steps are highly effective in dealing with the symptoms of hemorrhoids, and many can be used as preventative measures as well. I can personally attest to the effectiveness of these methods as a strength athlete with hemorrhoids. By following these methods I am able to squat and deadlift over 700lbs on a weekly basis and rarely have any symptoms.