Regulating a Healthy Bowel

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Did you know physical therapy could help you poop? If you are experiencing hemorrhoids often, straining and bearing down often to have a bowel movement (BM), can’t control your urgency to have a BM, or passing gas at moments you can’t control (i.e. when walking or when moving from sitting to standing position), and/or experiencing any form of incontinence, you might be a good candidate for some pelvic floor physical therapy. Sarah Cairns, our pelvic floor physical therapist, sees both male and female patients in Pocatello with urinary and bowel incontinence. We get questions from patients about having healthy, regular bowels so we wanted to share some practical tips.

The ideal frequency is up for debate. Our frequency goal for patients is a consistent schedule with ease and no straining. Bowel movements should be soft and easy to pass, with no pain, straining, or stool leakage. Establish a healthy bowel routine by checking in with yourself to see if you are doing some of these tips. If not, can you improve a few of the following?

Tips for good bowel health

  • Go when your bowel is most active (first thing in the morning and after meals) and when you feel the urge.
  • Eat a healthy diet including foods high in fiber such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Cut out irritating foods such as caffeine, dairy, processed meats, sugar, carbonated beverages, and artificial sweeteners.
  • Drink 8 glasses of water daily.
  • Eat regularly and don’t skip meals. The bowel functions best when it is introduced food at the same regular intervals.
  • Get active to help move food through the digestive tract.
  • Allow enough time on the toilet so you don’t need to rush or strain.
  • Use the best position for emptying your bowels: lean forward, with a straight back, forearms on your thighs, and feet slightly raised if possible (you may find a footstool helpful).
  • Do not hold your breath while trying.
  • Be aware of your bowel habits so you notice when something changes.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and don’t smoke because obesity and smoking are associated with an increase in the risk of bowel cancer.

If you are experiencing any pain, consistency changes, and/or are infrequent or difficult to pass, give our clinic a call! We can help teach you techniques to improve your overall bowel health, which improves your quality of life!

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