Having regular bowel movements is essential for a healthy digestive system and your overall well-being but sometimes pooping can be a struggle.
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If you’re often straining, you may not have the best poop posture. This can cause discomfort, bloat, and make you dread bathroom breaks.
As a gut health dietitian, I help people build gut healthy habits using mindfulness. Being mindful of your poop posture is a great first step.
Let’s dive into the different and best poop postures to adopt that will help you reduce constipation and empty your bowels easier.
What is the best poop posture?
There are 3 primary positions you can use to poop – sitting, sitting with hips flexed, and squatting. While all of these positions can help you relieve your bowels, squatting is the most natural and effective way.
Standard sitting is the typical bowel movement posture for most people, but it is one of the least efficient. Many researchers link digestive health problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or chronic constipation to this type of posture.
The problem with the sitting position is it doesn’t allow your rectal muscles to relax, which makes it harder to empty your bowels.
Sitting with hips flexed
Sitting on the toilet with your hips flexed away from your body is preferred to just standard sitting. This flexed position allows your rectal muscles to get into a more neutral position, reducing the strain of removing your bowels.
You might find it easier to sit with hips flexed on the toilet versus squatting. Squatting does require a bit more flexibility.
Check out this video where I talk and demo proper poop posture with a pelvic floor physical therapist.
Squatting above the toilet is said to be the most effective way to empty your bowels. It is a more natural way than any type of sitting position, resulting in less strain and more complete bowel movements.
To do this properly, sit above the toilet with your knees raised and legs slightly spread. Take a deep breath, relax, and open up your rectal muscles for a smoother bowel movement.
Other techniques to make pooping easier
If you don’t always feel like squatting, there are a few techniques you can try to make it easier to poop:
Get a good set up
- Lean forward on the toilet with your hands resting on your thighs.
- Ensure your knees are bent and are higher than your hips (you can use a small stool, squatty potty, or even a stack of books). This helps to mimic a squatting position.
- Make sure your feet are resting flat on the ground or on a stool. This helps to relax the body and put you in a comfortable position.
And relax with breathing
- Practice diaphragmatic breathing, using your abdominal muscles and breathing through your mouth to prevent straining.
- Relax your anal sphincter to open your bottom and release the stool. Sometimes you might be tightening up these muscles without realizing it, so focusing on relaxing them can make the process easier.
- Take deep breaths to increase the pressure in your abdomen and push down towards your anus. Deep, slow breathing can help to relax the pelvic floor muscles, making it easier to pass stool.
Drinking a large glass of water before you do this can also help move things along a bit more easily.
Other ways to improve constipation
Besides maintaining the best poop posture, there are other things you can do to poop easier and with less strain.
Eat plenty of fiber – Fiber can help speed up digestion and facilitate bowel emptying more efficiently. The recommended amount of fiber is 25-30 grams per day from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Getting in some fiber first thing in the morning can also help get things moving right off the bat.
Up your water intake – Dehydration can lead to hard, dark stools that are difficult to pass. Staying hydrated with plenty of water can soften the stool, making the process of pooping easier. Aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water per day, and even more if you’re active.
Move your body – Exercise stimulates your colon to contract, which can help clear out your bowels. It also can divert blood flow to the abdominal area, helping to trigger a bowel movement. Cardio exercises like walking, jogging, or biking can be the most helpful for this.
Don’t delay going to the bathroom – When you feel like you have to go, don’t hold it in. Listen to your body and go when you feel the signs, as delaying it can lead to constipation.
Try to set a regular bathroom schedule – Our bodies like to operate on a schedule. Even if you don’t always feel the urge, try going to the bathroom around the same time each day, such as right after breakfast.
This trains your body on when it’s time to go and can help facilitate a regular schedule.
Additionally, eating with intention allows you to become more in tune with your body and what foods help support healthy digestion.
What is considered constipation?
If you’ve read through this and are wondering if you truly have constipation, here are a few telltale symptoms:
- Dark, lumpy stool that is hard to pass
- Feeling like there is a blockage or something stuck in your rectum
- Frequent straining during bowel movements
- Pain during bowel movements
- Having less than three bowel movements a week
If you’re experiencing these symptoms on a regular basis, you likely have chronic constipation. These symptoms are usually a result of dehydration, a lack of fiber, stress, inadequate physical activity, or another underlying health condition like IBS.
Many times, the culprit may be a combination of these factors.
If you suffer from constipation, modifying your poop posture to mimic a squatting position can make the process easier. This can open up your bowels to gravity, reducing the strain on your muscles to poop.
While it may take some practice to perfect the best poop posture, it can certainly make a difference once you do it. However, if you suffer from chronic constipation, changing your poop posture alone is not the only solution.
Your posture won’t necessarily solve the underlying issues causing your constipation. If you’re frequently having trouble or are needing to focus on your poop posture, speak to your doctor and consult a gut health dietitian for help.
The Mindful Gut® group classes help you build gut-healthy habits that stick. Because a healthy diet, lifestyle, and expert guidance lead to a happy, healthy gut!
How does fiber work in the gut? Why do some make you gassy? We’re gonna talk all things fiber + we’re cooking! Class is Aug 19th at 3pm.
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Amanda is a pizza loving registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in mindfulness and gut health. She quickly realized that gut health goes beyond the gut; it is also about honoring our gut feelings. She is the creator of The Mindful Gut™ which uses science and strategy to help people improve their gut health.