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.