The Secret to Good Bowel Habits
We call it many things from pooping, passing motion, to number 2. Most physios don’t address this issue. However, good bowel habits are key to having good health, mood, and quality of life. Many people in Singapore suffers from constipation. It is important to discuss why you should have good bowel habits and how you can achieve this.
Why we care about bowel habits
You may be wondering what does physiotherapy have to do with this issue? Not only does constipation cause you some pain and discomfort, it also can affect your pain if you suffer from conditions such as disc prolapse or back pain. The excessive pushing action that you do to force a bowel movement increase pressure to your spine and can exacerbate the problem. It is, therefore, important for you to have good bowel habits in order to minimise this exacerbation.
Causes of constipation
- Poor fluid or fibre intake
- Holding on to a bowel motion for prolonged periods which can cause dehydration and hardening of the stool
- Hormonal influences such as pregnancy or pre-menstrual
- Lack of exercise or bedrest
- Using wrong technique to generate the wrong pressure to empty to the bowels.
How to have good bowel habits?
There’s a reason we’re often told to drink plenty of fluids and eat plenty of vegetables. It turns out this is essential in maintaining a good bowel habits. We should be aiming to drink at least 1.5-2 litres of water a day, and more if it’s warm outside, if you’ve been exercising, or if you’re breast-feeding. Increasing your soluble fibre intake by eating foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans, pulses, peas), oats and barley will also help to draw water into the stool to soften it. In general, the recommended fibre intake is 25-30g per day. You should also start your day with breakfast to help stimulate the gastro-colic reflex, which gets your bowels moving.
There correct technique
I don’t know about you, but my grandparents never complained to me about having constipation. Upon entering physiotherapy school, I found out why. Those old fashioned Asian squat toilets force you to be in the perfect position to pass motion easily. Squatting makes the rectum straight and allow the motion to pass easier without you having to strain. Straining makes it more difficult for you to pass motion but also weaken the pelvic floor muscles.
Here’s how you achieve the best posture to pass motion:
- Sit in a lean forward position, with elbows resting on knees and relax.
- Rest your feet on a footstool to bring your knees higher than your hips, and straighten your spine (this will mimic a squat position)
- Relax, breathe slowly and gently
- Widen through your waist and then feel your back passage relax. Breathe out and push/propel from your waist back and downwards.
If you’re still having difficulties after all this, seeing a professional may be the solution. Do feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Do check our instagram page to find out more about us!