Bowel health is something we tend to take for granted until it stops working. Rarely does anyone teach us the mechanics of emptying out bowels. When we have difficulty evacuating our body’s compensatory strategy is often to strain. This places a lot of undue stress on your pelvic floor, often leading to injury and/or prolapse.
Did you know there is a better way to poop? Follow these tips to work smarter and not harder on the toilet:
- Positioning: The optimal toileting position should feel comfortable to you. Anatomically, having your knees higher than hip height helps to facilitate relaxation of your pelvic floor muscles (i.e. step stool or squatty potty). There is not one position that is right for everyone, find what works best for you.
- Slow down: Toileting is not a race. Best practice is to head to the bathroom once you have a bowel urge. Sit and relax. Give your body 5 minutes to start the process on its own. If no success, move to step #3.
- Push properly: Your gastrointestinal intestinal system has reflexes that aid in defecation and bowel continence. The intrinsic and parasympathetic reflexes aid in defecation. When these reflexes are suppressed (rectoanal inhibitory reflex), your colon will help you less. In this instance, you may need to push to help the process. Patients often get confused about pushing vs. straining, aren’t they the same thing? Nope!
Practicing a proper push effort:
- Find your optimal toileting position
- Place your hands on your belly and relax your belly forward. You should feel how relaxing your abdominal wall helps relax your pelvic floor muscles. This is your “belly big” position.
- Maintain your “belly big” position and take a deep, slow breath in. As you blow out, think about blowing into your belly. Gently tighten your abdominal muscles WITHOUT pulling your navel to your spine. This is your “belly hard” position.
- As you are doing this breathing, think about relaxing, lengthening and opening your pelvic floor.
- Belly big: relax belly forward and take a deep breath in
- Belly hard: as you exhale, push into the belly, tense the abdominal muscles
- Pelvic floor drop: while you are exhaling, gently push, allowing your pelvic floor to relax and your sphincters to open.
If you need help putting these tips into action, call us to set up an appointment!