Updated: Dec 10, 2019
It seems instinctual to poo. Little babies wiggle their legs around, hug their knees in tightly and get out their poo without moms explaining how to do it. Diaper wearing toddlers find a quiet place to squat down and sneak a poo out like a ninja. And as adults we sit on the toilet wondering why the hell we can't poop.
Pooping depends on 4 main things:
1. What you eat
3. Position and technique on the toilet
Let's dive into these categories a little more.
1. What you eat. What goes in must come out, right. Correct. Eating colorful fruits and veggies with natural fiber is best. Hydration also fits into this category. Would you rather push out a row of river rocks or a piece of a soft play dough? I vote for play dough. Fiber and water will help keep your stool consistency just right so you can actually get it out with minimal effort.
Not sure what foods fit into this category. Start by eating foods that aren't processed or packaged on the shelves. That means, hit the fruit and veggie aisle. Also, dairy and gluten are two main allergens for people and even if not a true allergen for you, it may cause gut back ups. The only way to know is eliminate it for a few months and see if you feel different without them. It's always best to consult your docs, nutritionist or dietician for major changes if you're already on a specific diet for health conditions.
2. Movement. Couch potatoes don't poop and not just because they're potatoes. Stool has to move through the large intenstines to make its way to the rectum before you can have a bowel MOVEMENT. And physically moving your body helps the gut move the stool as well. Walking, running, jumping, yoga, hiking all help stimulate your bowels. Your poo will mimic your sedentary life and being loaded with shit feels awfully crappy. ;)
If you don't move, your poo won't either. Even for a short bit during travel, sitting for a long car or plane rides gives you more than swollen feet and stiff joints, it gives the unwanted gift of constipation. Making time to move through your day will help your stool move through your pipes. Get up every 30 min to do 30 sec of anything other than being still. You can walk, do step ups, twist, wiggle, do the hokey pokey, it doensn't matter, just get up and go for it.
Here's a simple one, lie on your back and hug your right knee to your chest, stay there for 5 breaths, then switch sides. This simple move massages your colon and can help get things moving...it ain't called the wind removing pose for nothing.
3. Position (and technique) on the toilet. People do the darndest things...on the toilet. Resting their feet on the wall in front of them, hovering to avoid the seat (like I did in college at the bars because they're legit gross), pushing until they pop a blood vessel in their face or sitting for 20 min waiting.
Here's the thing. There isn't one perfect way to poop, but there are positional strategies to optimize the experience. For starters, squatting to poo isn't bad, but you've gotta go deep and have the hip mobility to get there. I'm not talking about the hover squat because that's no good. How can you relax your bum muscles as they hold you in the hover? I'm talking about the deep woods butt to (almost) floor squat. Its a position where the pelvic floor muscles lengthen, and gravity is on your side. But since we poo in toilets more than the woods, someone created a squatty potty to help get in a similar position. Be creative, you can use yoga blocks, a sideways garbage can or extra toilet paper rolls under your feet to create an optimal position of the pelvis and hips for pooing.
Also, not everyone's pipes are the same. So play around with leaning forward, slumping back or even rocking forward and back to get things moving. See what works best for your body.
The most important part of the pooing technique is to breath. If you need a little push, exhale as you do it to get the party started.
4. Mindset. When the experience has been a negative one for long enough, your mind gets caught up in the negative and forgets what it was like to have a nice easy poo. Unfortunately that mindset creates a cycle of not being able to poo. Anxiety, stress and fear ramps the nervous system into fight of flight. This state of being is crucial for short periods of time for survival. For example, if you're a chicken and a fox is chasing you, you better be able to take flight and get the hell out of there or you're soup. (I use this analogy because I have chickens and foxes are a fine predator). During that flee, it isn't not crucial for the chickens gut to digest food or go to the bathroom. Same goes for us humans.
When your body is on high alert, blood goes to what's important to keep you alive such as your big strong muscles to run as fast as you can. In order for your bowels to get moving down the tubes, you've gotta enter the rest and digest calmer side of the nervous system, its called your Parasympathetic Nervous System.
Try this on the next time you're sitting on the loo: Begin with 5 deep breaths without any thought of pooing. Then imagine the stool moving through your pipes and allow your anus to relax and prepare to poo. Maybe you feel an urge, maybe not. If you feel an urge, halleluah, have yourself a nice poo. If you don't feel the urge right away, take a few more slow breaths, try rocking forward/back and give yourself a few minutes on the toilet before you get up, move around (remember the 2nd category) and try again later.
If you've gone through all these strategies and still find yourself with pooings problems, get professional help. A pelvic PT will lead you in the right direction.
Happy pooing :)