Unfortunately nothing causes more misery in people’s lives than bowel problems. This may include constipation, difficulty emptying the bowels, poor control of gas and stool, rectal prolapse, haemorrhoids or pain from anal fissures.
Bowel problems are very common. At least 10% of men and women will report long term problems. Unfortunately many people are embarrassed to talk about this, even with their nearest and dearest. This stops them getting the advice and help that they need.
There are 3 key elements to doing a good comfortable poo.
Firstly, it is important to sit in the correct position.
- Raise feet (knees higher than hips)
- Lean forward with forearms resting on knees
· Try to ‘let go’ of all muscles
- Gently bulge the tummy muscles and push down gently
- Breathe slowly and gently through the mouth
- Don’t strain!!
· A ‘squatty potty’ is a foot stool designed specifically to help with this.
Secondly, it is important to maintain good coordination between the abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor muscles. A lot of people incorrectly pull in their tummy in and push down on their pelvic floor (which will cause unnecessary straining). Instead you should try to gently bulge your abdominal wall. This causes the pelvic floor muscles to open and relax which creates a funnel to allow the poo to pass more comfortably.
Thirdly, aim for the correct stool consistency. That is, your poo should be soft, formed and easy to pass. To achieve this you should:
- Drink plenty of fluids. 1.5-2L per day, should be enough.
- Aim for at least 30grams of fibre per day.
· Aim for 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables each day.
· Try to use wholemeal or wholegrains breads, high fibre cereal, brown rice and whole meal pasta instead of white or refined grains. Legumes/ lentils, nuts and seed are also a good source of fibre.
· Get plenty of exercise. Walking is a great exercise that can help get the bowel moving. Aim for 30 minutes most days.
If you are having ongoing bowel issues a pelvic floor physiotherapy may also help. This is a physiotherapist that has completed postgraduate training on the pelvic floor and can help with bowel and bladder issues.