As a pelvic health therapist you learn to get really comfortable with asking personal and often times peculiar questions. One of those discussions absolutely involves the infamous number 2. Has anyone ever asked you in what position do you poop? What shape does your poop form? Is it difficult to expel or have a strange color or consistency? Not often questions we discuss over coffee, but believe it or not most of us have some or all the wrong answers. So in the same train of thought, if you are experiencing constipation, anal fissures, hemorrhoids, or just general belly aches, it is not necessarily something that you ate.
So what does pooping correctly look like you may ask? Experts say that on a daily basis you should be passing a stool that is a long smooth sausage – like shape. Visually, below is the Bristol Stool Chart, your poop should appear like Type 3 or 4, otherwise the consistency of your poo needs to be addressed. In terms of positioning, think back to pre:toilet ages, we would squat for the passing of stool. In the squat position one of your pelvic floor muscles called the puborectalis relaxes and allows passage. In standing the puborectalis muscle closes around the anal sphincter to prevent the passage of stool. If you just sit on the toilet it often doesn’t allow enough relaxing of this sphincter to allow smooth expulsion.
So how should we all be pooping?
- Sit on the toilet seat (hoovering can cause pelvic floor muscles to become contracted)
- Have your feet supported, so that your knees are above your hips as in the picture below.
- Lean forward keeping your back straight and rest your forearms on your thighs
- Allow your belly to relax in all directions
- Avoid holding your breath, if you find this difficult try breathing out through pursed lips as you bear down lightly. (Pushing forcefully often causes the passage to close rather then open)
- The key to a healthy bowel movement is to position correctly and relax.