Cyclists VS Haemorrhoids
Our top five tips to ensure you can continue pedalling and stop ‘roid rage.
Although they are often the butt of the joke (if you’ll pardon the pun) haemorrhoids are no laughing matter. If you, or someone you know, suffers from haemorrhoids, you’ll know that they can be extremely painful. Haemorrhoids can cause a further problem if you love to cycle, given the pressure on the area when sitting on the saddle. However, you’ll be relieved to know that there are certain steps you can take that will help keep you comfortable in the saddle.
What are Haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swellings containing enlarged blood vessels found inside or around the bottom. If you have haemorrhoids, symptoms may include bleeding after passing a stool, a lump hanging down outside your anus and soreness around the area.
What is the relationship between cycling and haemorrhoids?
Many wrongly believe that cycling can make you more susceptible to developing piles. In fact, cycling is only indirectly linked to piles; it can only be a contributory factor in further aggravating an existing haemorrhoid condition. When sitting on a saddle, blood flow to the anal region is reduced, more pressure is placed on the rectal area and friction is created. Particularly if sitting on a saddle for a prolonged period, cycling can therefore make the haemorrhoids more uncomfortable and inflamed.
The exact cause of haemorrhoids is unknown but they are associated with increased pressure in and around your anus. Pressure can be caused by constipation, pregnancy, regular heavy lifting and obesity. Age is also a factor; as you get older, your body’s supporting tissues get weaker, increasing your risk of haemorrhoids.
Can I continue cycling if I have haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids are not a sentence to reduced activity. Regular exercise can promote regular bowel movements, reducing the likelihood of contracting haemorrhoids or making existing haemorrhoids worse. It can also increase blood flow therefore reducing inflammation. Exercise helps you lose weight; this is key, given that obesity can increase your risk of suffering from haemorrhoids. However, there are certain things you can do to enable you to continue enjoying cycling if you have haemorrhoids. Here are our ‘Top Five Tips”:
- Cycling shorts
Always ensure that your shorts fit properly, as badly fitting shorts can bunch up and add pressure around the anus. If you do have haemorrhoids, wearing regular, unpadded shorts may become uncomfortable due to the lack of cushioning. Particularly if cycling for longer periods of time, padded shorts may make it more comfortable and reduce friction.
- Saddle and sitting position
When it comes to saddles, there is no ‘one size fits all’ as different saddles will work for different people. You should try different saddles to find the one that is most comfortable for you. For some people, extra padding on the seat can reduce friction such as a gel saddle. However, others might find a firm leather saddle better. You could try a broader saddle that gives a larger space to distribute your weight. Alternatively, you could try a split saddle. These seem to be popular with haemorrhoid sufferers due to the cut out centre design.
How you sit on the saddle can also reduce pain. If you have a properly sized saddle, you should be sitting on the Sitz bones (the two at the bottom of the pelvis). By doing so, you reduce the pressure put on your anus. You can also try repositioning yourself so that more weight is placed on your arms.
- Recumbent Bike
When training, you could use a recumbent bike – the type found in a gym. Unlike a usual bike, your weight is more evenly distributed. The design means the seat is slightly reclined therefore relieving pressure on your bottom.
Creams and ointments are available without a prescription. These provide soothing relief from the discomfort and itching. They can reduce swelling and prevent bacterial growth. These can facilitate gradual healing and enable you to pedal without worrying about a flare up.
- Long Term Fix
If cycling is becoming exceptionally troublesome, we advise refraining from the activity for a while. You could participate in other types of exercise such as swimming, given that this sport will exert less pressure on the affected area. If you want a long-term solution, there are a number of surgical procedures that will eradicate your piles. Alternatively you might prefer a non-surgical procedure such as eXroid’s electrotherapy treatment. This treatment is the latest innovation in the treatment of piles and has a proven track record of over 2800 treatments in the UK. eXroid’s electrotherapy is one of the least invasive and most effective haemorrhoid treatments for piles. The treatment itself takes only 30 to 45 minutes, there’s no need for anaesthesia or any pre prep such as enemas. Most patients who’ve shared the experience tell us that they could get back to their normal activity on the same day. This means you can get back to cycling in no time. For more information on eXroid’s electrotherapy treatment, please visit here. Or if you’d like a discreet chat with one of our trained advisers, simply contact us and we’ll be happy to advise you on your next steps.