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  • Karen

The Bike and My Butt: Frenemies

"Not joining us on the bike today?" a member of the 7:45 am group working out at the Institute of Performance and Fitness (IPF) asks. There's a hint of both jealousy and accusation in their voice.

"Got an injury," I respond sheepishly as I hop on the elliptical after receiving a "pass" on the bike today.

I fully understand why my fellow gym rats are giving me sideways glances. After all, I looked perfectly healthy doing everything else in the workout so far. Plus, they've seen me ride the bike during other workouts. But now, in the face of bike sprints, calorie rides, distance time trials, ladders, or whatever madness the instructors have cooked up for us today, I'm not only cowardly slinking away from the bike but I'm also not being very transparent about an injury that I claim to have.

It doesn't help that I also have an "in" at the gym--my husband runs it-- which can lead to a slight bit of special handling at times.

Despite the way it may appear to others, though, I'm not getting away with anything by not riding the bike today. In fact, while the Airdyne bikes we ride are torturous machines, it's a hell I would welcome instead of the serious issue I'm dealing with...

My butt is on fire from hemorrhoids.

You don't have to be an expert in the nether regions to know that getting on the bike when you've got a **hot** bum-bum is a terrible idea that is sure to lead to debilitating tuchas pain and agony.

According to colon and rectal specialists, riding a bike does not cause hemorrhoids. However--and this I can readily attest to--it can exacerbate them for reasons that are probably pretty obvious, but of course, I'll elaborate...

The repetitive motion of cycling, whether stationary or out on the road, causes lots of rubbing and friction in the most sensitive areas between the butt cheeks and puts a lot of pressure on the rectum.

As I alluded to, biking at IPF is not a slow roll through the park. It's more like riding a bucking bronco (which also is not recommended when suffering from hemorrhoids if you were wondering). There is a lot of exertion, strain, and bearing down to reach a speed, beat a time, or hit a distance that has been set as your goal. All of these actions can irritate hemorrhoids and cause more pain and swelling in the affected area.

So, I'm clearly making a wise choice to stop biking to allow my pesky hemorrhoids to heal. Lucky for me, the trainers at IPF have many other torture devices at their fingertips--incline sprints on the treadmill, hill climb on the elliptical, interval training on the stairclimber, and so much more fun (not funny ha-ha) stuff to keep me and my butt in shape during this biking hiatus.

Exercise is a lifelong passion of mine and my butt is a longtime problem of mine. The two need to learn to get along!

If I ever get completely fed up with these interruptions to my training regimen, I can always consult with a specialist on more permanent, but invasive treatments for hemorrhoids. For now, though, the pain of staying the course is manageable.

The only thing I'm really having trouble navigating is all the questioning looks from my workout partners when I slither away from the bike.

But with 1 in 20 Americans and about half of adults older than age 50 suffering from hemorrhoids, I have my own question for them...Isn't anyone else feeling my pain?

If you've been covering up your hemorrhoid issues, know that you have a friend in me (but not the bike).

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