Three simple exercises to ease constipation

In my last blog post, I explained how tight pelvic floor muscles can cause or worsen constipation. You can read more about that here.

Generally, physicians diagnose constipation when a person has less than three bowel movements per week. However, if you are not having a bowel movement daily or your poop looks like pebbles, you are well on your way to chronic constipation.Here are several exercises that can help move things along your digestive tract.

1. Deep Squats

Lower down into a deep squat, keeping your heels on the ground and your spine in a neutral position. Stay in this position for 3-5 minutes. Allow your entire body to relax, specifically focusing on releasing any tension in your buttocks, anus, and vagina. Imagine that you are melting your pelvic floor into butter or that your vagina and anus are opening similar to a flower blossoming. Yes, I know this sounds crazy! However, research actually shows that visual imagery may help relax your pelvic floor musculature!

2. Swiss Ball Rolls

Lay on top of a Swiss ball with your stomach on the center of the ball. Slowly roll back and forth, clockwise, and counterclockwise. The pressure on your abdomen will stimulate movement in the intestines. Duration: 1-3 minutes.

If you have hand or wrist problems try this position instead:

3. I-L-U Massage

This three-part massage actually helps move things along in the anatomical direction of the intestines. Lay on your back with your knees bent.

Step 1 : “I”

Start in the upper left corner of your abdomen under your rib cage. Massage with moderate pressure in a downward direction towards your left hip bone. Repeat ten times.

Step 2: “L”

Begin in the upper right corner of your abdomen under the rib cage. Massage with moderate pressure across your abdomen under your left rib cage and down towards your left hip bone. Your hands should spell an “L” in one continuous sweeping motion. Repeat ten times.

Step 3: “U”

Begin in your lower right abdomen near your right hip bone. Massage up to the right rib cage, travel across to the left rib cage and down towards your left hip bone. Your hands should spell an upside down “U” in one continuous motion. Repeat ten times.

Exercise Prescription:

Perform these techniques 1-3x per day either 30 minutes before a meal or 2 hours after a meal. Happy pooping!

-Dr. Betsey Stec PT, DPT

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  1. Carrico, D. J., Peters, K. M., & Diokno, A. C. (2008). Guided imagery for women with interstitial cystitis: results of a prospective, randomized controlled pilot study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 14(1), 53-60.

  2. ILU (I Love U) Massage. Pelvic Health Solutions. Accessed August 26, 2016: http://pelvichealthsolutions.ca/for-the-patient/constipation/ilu-i-love-u-massage/

  3. Mizrahi, M. C., Reicher-Atir, R., Levy, S., Haramati, S., Wengrower, D., Israeli, E., & Goldin, E. (2012). Effects of guided imagery with relaxation training on anxiety and quality of life among patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Psychology & health, 27(12), 1463-1479.


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