The holidays: the most wonderful time of the year for some. The most stressful time of the year for others. And for many, a combination of both.
At Hudson Valley Physical Therapy, we specialize in treating constipation. I use the analogy “The bowel is like a small toddler” with my patients all the time. Like a toddler, your GI system likes routine. The same foods, the same timing, and the same environment every day.
Whether you’re stringing up some holiday lights and baking batches of cookies, or praying for January’s swift arrival, the combination of different foods, travel, and stress creates the perfect storm for constipation.
Here are our best tips for managing constipation through the holiday season.
Stress less/ stretch more
Does your GI system seem to have a “mind” of its own? There’s some truth to that.
Your gut has different receptors for signals your nervous system sends it. Stress can really shut down your gut.
Whether it be exercise, a quiet night in with a good book, or maybe some meditation, try to build in some relaxation time in your day.
Ever notice you clench your jaw when stressed? If you clench your jaw, you likely clench your belly and pelvic floor muscles too.
Tight pelvic floor muscles can make it difficult to pass stool.
Try a stretch like “happy baby” or figure 4 with some deep breathing to improve pelvic floor muscle mobility.
Hydrate…and no, a glass of wine doesn’t count
Enjoy your eggnog and a glass of wine or two, but don’t forget to stay hydrated with water throughout the day to keep stool soft.
Bonus tip! Alcohol can be a trigger for urinary urgency. Try a water sandwich. I.E. sip on water before and after a cocktail to help dilute the alcohol and decrease bladder irritation.
Hit up that cheese plate….and the veggie plate
Savor delicious holiday meals but make sure you’re sneaking in fiber as well. Your body needs a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber to stay regular. Many of the veggies you find on a holiday platter pack a bit of both.
Still need a little help getting things moving? Try a constipation massage morning and night. Check out our instagram @hudsonvalleypelvicpt for helpful tips on the massage.
You know you’re doing it right when you hear some gurgling going on.
Best of luck! From all of us at Hudson Valley Physical Therapy, we wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season.