In this guest blog, I welcome Grace Lilywhite, a qualified pilates teacher to share with you movement tips to aid constipation & sluggish bowels. The post-Christmas period often brings sluggishness – in both energy levels and bowels, so here is what Grace advises….
Did you know that the health of your pelvic floor is intrinsically linked to constipation and gut health?
It’s true, in fact as many as 50% of people who suffer with constipation also have pelvic-floor dysfunction. The co-ordination of muscles in this part of the body is vitally important and each working part has a huge impact on the other.
When defecating, the abdominal muscles should contract easily whilst the anus muscles gently relax. If your pelvic floor can’t fully relax, the anal sphincter will tighten when passing stool.
This tightening can be released in many different ways and if you are struggling with constipation, a visit to a Pelvic Health Physio is highly recommended.
Pelvic floor release can also be helped with the following exercises:
Connect your breaths
- Position yourself on all fours.
- Focus your mind on the space at the base of your pelvis. As you take deep breaths, try to send the breath down to the space between the ‘sit’ bones.
- Concentrate on the feeling of your breath and your pelvic floor as they work together.
- Your pelvic floor releases and moves down as you inhale. And gently lifts back up again as you exhale.
- Stay in this position for 10 breaths and really focus on connecting your breath to your pelvic floor.
- Stay on all fours. This time, as you inhale, rotate your right thigh bone inwards. Feel the space this creates in your pelvic floor.
- When you exhale, bring your leg smoothly back to parallel.
- Repeat this movement with your left leg, continuing to pay close attention to your breathing.
- Continue this exercise for 5 times on each side of your body.
Making things easier (naturally)
Constipation can cause chronic straining, which can have a negative impact on your pelvic floor and lead to further weakening of the area. There are some remarkably simple but effective things you can try to make it naturally easier for your body to poo!
Consider your toileting position
The human body is designed to defecate in a squatting position. However, use of the toilet has changed the anorectal angle, which can make it more difficult to naturally move stool through the body. Raise your feet and lean forwards to change the angle of your knees and bring your position closer to a squat.
Increase your exercise
Regular exercise really does help to get your bowels moving. It stimulates the natural contraction of your intestines which helps the stool move more easily.
Concentrate on your breathing patterns
As you’ll notice from the exercises above, your breath and your pelvic floor are very closely linked. If your breathing patterns are dysfunctional it can directly lead to dysfunction in your pelvic floor. Focus on using the whole of your torso when you breathe in and out. You should really be able to feel your breath moving through your pelvis, your stomach, your back and side of your ribcage.
Address your posture
If your body is well-aligned and nothing is compressed, your pelvic floor will function more effectively, and your digestion will improve. Ensure you get enough movement into your day and try not to slump when you are sitting down.
These are just some of the easy exercises and simple changes you can put in place to keep your body working smoothly. Each muscle strengthens the other and, with time, you can improve your pelvic floor and your gut health.
Grace Lilywhite is the owner of Centred Mums, a series of exciting and innovative pregnancy and postnatal wellbeing programmes in St Albans. She founded the business 8 years ago to support women throughout their motherhood journey. Her primary focus is to advise women that exercise, wellness, and nutrition are VITAL and LIFE CHANGING. Grace wants to teach as many women as possible how to look after their pelvic floor, and how to connect to their body so they can exercise safely, effectively, and in a way that is sustainable for the rest of their lives.
To consolidate the basics of good nutritional eating and give your body the best chance of getting your bowels moving & having a calm tummy, these 10 Steps to Happy Digestion are exactly where you need to start.
Jane Barrett is a registered nutritionist and expert in digestive health helping women & children with digestive issues take control of their health through food. She offers support through meal plans, online courses & personalised 1:1 programmes on Zoom.