September 29, 2023

How Routine Can Assist Healthy Bowel Movements

Establishing good bowel health is important for many reasons. Having regular bowel movements (BM) helps to preserve hormone balance, excrete waste/toxins, support mental health & function, and protect structures like pelvic organs, nerves, and muscles. Constipation is something that many people are dealing with, and may not even realize it! What is considered “normal” involves a broad range of frequency (how many BM per day?) and consistency of BM (formed? soft? hard? size?). Also important to consider is effort – is there straining? a feeling of incomplete emptying? pain? The two main drivers of constipation are slowed transit time and outlet dysfunction as seen with short/tight pelvic floor muscles essentially blocking the passage of stool.

Prevention is always easier when it comes to bowel dysfunction. So what we can do? Develop a bowel routine. Things like:
-consistent bed and wakeup times (prioritize quality sleep)
-consider something like a bit of prune juice before bed
-start your morning with a warm beverage to stimulate bowels (coffee, tea, hot water w/ lemon)
-perform gentle abdominal massage for few minutes before bed and upon waking
-don’t ignore the urge to move bowels (aim to get to the toilet within 15 mins)
-get movement, like 20 min daily walks, yoga twists
-prioritize down time in your day so you can “rest & digest”

The bowels are very much routine-oriented and there are many ways to support its function. Your pelvic floor therapist can help with both prevention and management of constipation.