How to Have a Smooth Trip to the Loo

Finding it hard to go? Here’s how to get things going down there.

Relaxing on the toilet is difficult for a lot of people: When something feels stuck, there’s an impulse to push. But when you bear down to force a bowel movement, it applies pressure to your anus, which can result in inflamed veins and tissue, hemorrhoids and…anal fissures (yup). For a smoother experience, pelvic floor physiotherapist Michiko Caringal suggests repositioning yourself: Elevate your feet, keep your knees higher than your hips and lean forward. And don’t forget to breathe.

If you’re someone who brings their smartphone into the loo for a little scrolling, or if a trip to the washroom feels incomplete without some reading material, it might be time to let go of those habits. Distracting your brain with your phone or a book may seem like a good plan if you’re struggling to relax, but it can actually be bad for your butt. Cracking open a book could send the wrong signals to your brain—your mind might start to associate the toilet with reading, making it harder to go. Plus, reading can make you linger for longer than you need to, leading to not-so-fun conditions like hemorrhoids. Instead, keep your mind in the gutter and concentrate on the task at hand. “I would just focus on your body and really, really think about something relaxing,” Caringal says. Try taking a few deep breaths to calm your central nervous system.

And please: Don’t strain. It seems counterintuitive, especially when you’ve been constipated for what feels like an eternity, but pushing and holding your breath to force a bowel movement can actually work against you in the quest for an easy time on the porcelain throne. Rushing yourself will only make you subconsciously contract your muscles, closing off opportunities for relief.

Next: How To Keep Your Pelvic Floor Happy and Healthy

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Originally Published in Best Health Canada