Constipation can cause pain and problems in more than just your bowels…
Constipation is a BIG problem and health concern for many reasons, including pelvic floor issues and even low back pain.
Clearing out our bowels is a part of getting rid of the bad stuff, literally!
It can create hormonal issues as we age, the straining of having a bowel movement causes leakage issues and prolapse issues, and the pressure of a full colon creates pressure and pain in the low back.
I know, who would’ve thought?
Though we’d never admit it to our friends, we’ve all experienced constipation at some point in our lives. In fact, nearly 60 million Americans experience constipation.
You read that correctly: 60 MILLION AMERICANS EXPERIENCE CONSTIPATION, which means YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
There are so many health links to having a healthy bowel movement, which is why this article is so important on doing things that can help you improve your bowels and not treating the symptoms with laxatives.
Constipation is one of the most common reasons people see a doctor.
Most people search for laxatives to relieve the episodes of constipation, but some people prefer a more natural remedy.
Here are 5 natural ways to help with your constipation, which will keep your pelvic floor and gut happy!
Plus, you won’t have to see a doctor to relieve your symptoms.
1.Movement is medicine: move the body, move the bowels reducing constipation.
This is my #1 phrase I say to patients as we work through reasons why they may be a bit backed up. Our body craves movement, and typically this may be the last thing you’re thinking about when you have pressure building up in your stomach. But remember that our gut is a muscle and it needs movement to function properly.
The recommended daily movement goal for adults is 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per day. For some, this may seem like a lot. Start by trying to walk around the block a couple times then begin to increase your physical activity. Unsure how to increase the intensity? Seek out a physical therapist for help!
2.Get enough fiber in your diet helps with constipation.
Did you know that only about 3% of Americans consume the recommended amount of fiber daily? That means 97% of Americans are doing a disservice to their bowels during mealtime.
What is fiber? It’s a type of carbohydrate that promotes digestion as the body is unable to digest it. This encourages the body to collect other waste in the body and stimulates a bowel movement.
So for the 97% not consuming the correct amount of fiber in the day, here are some solutions on ways to improve your daily fiber intake.
- Consume an apple or orange every day (or alternate an apple one day then an orange the next day)
- Add a salad to your meal with beans or quinoa – All Plants have a lot of fiber so eat more plants!
- Snack on nuts and dried fruit during the day
- We recommend a Protein shake mix that has 8 grams of fiber with each scoop. (reach out to us for more information on this product and how to get it)
It is recommended that men consume 30 grams of fiber and women consume 25 grams of fiber daily. Are you consuming that much?
One of the products we recommend is Juice Plus because it is a food-based capsule packed full of nutrients. The research on the product is solid and published in top medical journals (yes, as healthcare providers we geek out on that).
I know it’s very hard to completely change your diet by asking you to add 10 servings of a variety of plant foods EVERY day, which is why we love Juice Plus.
It is a series of capsules containing 30 different fruits and veggies that have been vine picked, frozen on the fields to keep the nutrients fresh, and then blended together taking out the water, salt and sugar leaving all the phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals intact.
We literally call it the “pooping pill” because you will start to have more regular bowel movements. Not only that, it is the first part of starting to make changes to your diet that will allow you to start craving better foods over time and wanting to eat healthier during the day. It is a win win!
3.Water Intake helps with Constipation
As we begin to consume more fiber, it is important to drink more fluids throughout the day as this helps to soften the stool as we pass it. Soft stool is much easier to pass than dense stool that causes you to bear down and stress your body as you eliminate it from the body, which doesn’t sound fun does it?
It is recommended to drink at least 2 liters if not 3 liters of water a day. Keep in mind, this is a general recommendation. If you’re more active during the day, your body will require more water during the day. Specialists suggest sticking to mostly water during the day.
Need your coffee in the morning? That’s okay, just be sure to follow it up with a cup of water to prevent dehydration. Drinking hot liquids in the morning can actually stimulate your bowels to work better for you, so switching your iced coffee or tea for hot may improve your bowel activity.
4.Squatty Potty helps with constipation
I want to talk about your pelvic floor anatomy because the muscles that hold all of your pelvic organs in may be playing a role in your constipation.
You have three major pelvic floor muscles: levator ani, obturator internus, and puborectalis. These muscles have a super important job in our body by ensuring our pelvic organs do the jobs they’re supposed to do for us.
Why is this important? Well, the puborectalis muscle actually creates a sling around the bowels to pinch them off while you’re doing regular activities during the day.
Pretty helpful for keeping stuff in, but it makes it a big challenge for trying to push stuff out when we’re ready for it.
This is where a Squatty Potty or toilet stool comes in handy. Putting your feet on a stool like the Squatty Potty puts your body in the optimal position to relax the puborectalis muscle to allow the bowels to do their job. This allows the body to relax while having a bowel movement instead of straining through the process.
5.Gut Massage helps with constipation
Still not able to have a good bowel movement? Performing a gut massage can help to reactivate the muscles that control bowel movements.
One massage technique is called “ILU”, and it can help promote improved gastrointestinal mobility by naturally moving the stool through the intestines. It’s a simple technique that can help tremendously.
- Lie down on your back on a semi-firm surface with your knees bent and feet flat.
- Begin by forming the letter “I” by stroking with moderate pressure from under your left rib cage down to your left hip. Repeat 10-15 times.
- Next, you’ll form the letter “L” by stroking with moderate pressure from under the right rib cage across your belly towards the left side then down to the left hip. Repeat 10-15 times.
- Last, you’ll form the letter “U” by stroking with moderate pressure from the right hip to the right rib cage, across the belly towards under the left rib cage, then down to the left hip. Repeat 10-15 times.
- Finish by performing 1-2 minutes of clockwise circular massages 2-3 inches away from the belly button to stimulate the small intestine.