Bowel Movements and Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that sit like a hammock in your pelvis. The pelvic floor needs to properly relax to allow for a bowel movement. It also needs to contract to stop an unwanted bowel movement. When the pelvic floor is working well, we often don’t think about our bathroom habits. But when things go awry and constipation or diarrhea are a frequent concern, it can be a good time to see a pelvic floor physical therapist.
Constipation is a common problem. There are many medications on the market to address constipation, but seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist is a better long-term solution. If your pelvic floor muscles are too tight it can cause stool to back up in the colon causing pain and discomfort. If the muscles cannot relax, it can be hard to let stool out of your body. A pelvic floor physical therapist can teach you exercises to loosen your pelvic floor muscles and massage techniques for your abdomen. There are also simple, but effective instructions for your posture on the toilet to have a successful bowel movement.
- Put your feet flat on the ground or on a stool (you may have heard of the squatty potty which can be a nice stool option)
- Experiment with a slight lean forward to help relax your pelvic floor
- Push your belly out and down as you breathe out. Breathe out like you are blowing on a pinwheel. Do NOT hold your breath.
Diarrhea or urgency can also be a problem. You may have strong urges to have a bowel movement when it is not convenient to get to the toilet. Or, you may not properly feel that a bowel movement is coming and have leakage or an accident. Once again, a pelvic floor physical therapist can help. There are exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, reduce urges, and improve sensation.
With either or both issues, your therapist will look at your body as a whole assessing any pain, alignment, exercise habits, food/drink intake, and more. Together, a plan can be created that works best for your body and helps you reach your goals.