What is Constipation and How Physio Can Help!
Going to the bathroom got you down? Feeling like you have to sit on the toilet for ages, and really push or strain to get your poo out? You might just be constipated.
Constipation occurs when stool moves slowly through our digestive tract, which causes the stool to become hard and dry, making it more difficult to get out. Constipation can affect anyone at any age, and is one of those sneaky things in the second trimester that they don’t always tell you about.. Hello progesterone!
In an ideal world, you will be able to poop anywhere from three times a day, up to every three days. However, most Naturopaths and Dieticians will tell you that if you have a well working system, you should poop every day. In my world, five times a week is the number I normally encourage people to aim for as a minimum. If you are going five times a week this normally eliminates most of your waste, but doesn’t create the anxiety that often comes along with not pooping every day.
I would say that in terms of bowel dysfunction, constipation is the biggest thing that I deal with in regards to pelvic health. One of the biggest problems with constipation is that people do not often realize they are constipated.
Here are a few uncommonly known signs of constipation:
Pooping less than three times a week
Having hard or lumpy poops
Straining or pushing to poop
Pooping daily, but in small quantities & not feeling like you’re emptying
Poop that goes from loose (diarrhea) to hard or changes consistency every time you go
Feeling like there is a blockage in your rectum
Abdominal pain and cramping
Why does this matter?
Constipation may seem like a small thing, but if left unchecked, over time this can cause problems for your digestive system and your pelvic floor. If you are always straining to poop, this may contribute to pelvic floor tension, hemorrhoids and pain with bowel movements. Over a long period of time can increase straining required from constipation causes dysfunction of pelvic floor muscles. This can contribute to symptoms of pelvic pain or pelvic floor muscle tightness.
Here are some ways that Pelvic PT can help with constipation:
Assess your bowel habits and help you change lifestyle factors contributing to constipation
Assess your pelvic floor muscles. If muscle tension is a problem we can improve this and help you poop better
Determine if there is a muscle coordination issue preventing you from emptying
Teach you proper poop mechanics- yes this is a thing!
Get you pooping regularly!
I hope you learned a little bit more about constipation, if this is something you suffer with then inviting a pelvic floor physiotherapist into your care team might be a vital component of treatment. Stay tuned for our next blog post where I will be sharing some of my favourite tips to improve pooping!