What do Beijing, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Dubai, Gold Coast, London, NYC, Prague, and Tokyo have in common? In addition to being home to the world’s top 10 marathons, they’re home to hemorrhoids….hundreds and hundreds of hemorrhoids.
Running with hemorrhoids can be a painful experience for some. Understanding what hemorrhoids are, and why running can increase your chances of getting them can help you find a solution that won’t keep you away from the finish line.
Important message to all sneaker jocks out there: Running in itself does not cause hemorrhoids.
What are hemorrhoids? They are cushions of vascular tissue in the anal canal, and can be very painful when they flare up. There are two kinds of hemorrhoids—internal and external. Few runners are aware that around 50 percent of adults have hemorrhoid symptoms. They can hurt, bleed, itch, and oftentimes are especially irritating for athletes. Although hemorrhoids are not generally life threatening, you should still see a colon & rectal specialist if you are experiencing bleeding to rule out serious illness, such as colon cancer.
Colon Cancer is the #2 cancer killer, yet it’s preventable.
What causes runners to have hemorrhoid symptoms? Increased pressure and engorgement of hemorrhoids can be the culprit. Marathon running stresses the gastrointestinal system, and runners often experience flatulence, runners’ diarrhea, excessive sweating, and other aggravations. Let’s be clear: running does not cause hemorrhoids. However, several dynamics associated with long distance running may trigger hemorrhoid symptoms—constipation is common with marathoners who tend to skimp on water consumption. This creates hard stool that makes straining in the bathroom a problem—hard stool puts pressure on the hemorrhoids during bowel movements and inflames this tissue.
Exercise actually offers therapeutic value to hemorrhoid sufferers because it increases intestinal muscle contractions. This can help promote regular, easier bowel movements. Exercise can also help you lose weight that may be contributing to your hemorrhoid symptoms.
If hemorrhoids are forcing you to consider hanging up your running shoes, consider staying better hydrated, increasing the fiber in your diet, and sitting in a warm bath several times daily.
Make an appointment with a board certified colon & rectal surgeon if these simple remedies don’t bring relief. They may suggest a painless rubber banding procedure that takes less than 10 minutes in the office. People with severe cases of hemorrhoids should consult their doctor before jogging and running to avoid a worsened condition, such as prolapse.