Last month, we came to you with a special blog for teachers. Teachers have super early starts to their day, limited times when they have access to a bathroom, and public restroom spaces. For these reasons, teachers may experience pelvic floor dysfunction.
Last month we left you with a final point about managing constipation. Constipation always drives urinary symptoms. You will struggle to resolve your urinary symptoms if constipation goes unchecked.
So what is regular?
You can be going every day but still be constipated. Medical professionals use the Rome IV criteria to diagnose functional constipation. See below.
- Straining more than 25% of defecations
- Lumpy or hard stools (bristol 1 and 2) for more than 25% of defecations
- Sensation of incomplete evacuation for more than 25% of defecations
- Sensation of anorectal obstruction for more than 25% of defecations
- Manual maneuvers during more than 25% of defecations
- Less than three spontaneous bowel movements per week
- Loose stools rarely without laxative use
- Insufficient criteria for irritable bowel syndrome
If you’re experiencing two or more of the above symptoms, read on to learn how to take control of your constipation.
Before tackling constipation know that change is slow. The bowel is like a small toddler and likes to do the same thing, the same time, most days. If you’ve had chronic issues, stay the course but know that it’s completely normal that this can take a while.
Slow and steady wins the race
When you chew your food a lot, you take advantage of the gastrocolic reflex. Chewing initiates this reflex which stimulates waves of digestion through your entire digestive system.
While multitasking may be a way of life during lunch, taking time to really chew and break down your food can help get things moving.
Schedule time to go
After lunch make time to sit on the toilet. In fact, after each meal, we recommend sitting on the toilet and seeing if you get any type of urge.
When you’re constantly rushing out the door or suppressing the urge to move your bowels, eventually the urge can diminish or disappear.
That urge can be tough to get back, but take advantage of the gastrocolic reflex after meals and sit.
Spend no more than 5 minutes and don’t push or strain. Simply breathe and wait to see if you get an urge. This can take a while (ie weeks, months) so don’t give up if nothing happens in the first few days.
Since educators start their day so early, the morning may not be the best time to have a bowel movement. If the afternoon or evening is a bit less stressful, your body may be able to relax which is necessary for bowel function.
Does your system need a little more than the gastrocolic reflex to get going? Try a constipation massage. Research supports the efficacy of constipation massage in improving frequency of bowel movements.
There are quite a few variations, but you can try the following technique: (and check out our instagram for a how to)
- Start on your lower left ribs with ten firm circles
- Move down creating circles until you reach the L hip (the idea here is clearing out the descending colon)
- Move your hands to your right ribs and create circles going from right to left
- Follow the descending colon down to the left hip making an L shape
- Move your hands to the right hip and make circles up the ascending colon
- Continue to trace the L path you just did. This final shape is a U.
Try this massage in the morning before sitting for a bowel movement or at night before bed to get things ready for the morning. Noises and gurgling are a sign of things moving.
Eat your fiber
If you’ve ever complained to your doctor about constipation, you’ve probably been told to drink more water and eat some fiber. But how much fiber exactly?
The CDC recommends 22-34 grams of fiber per day. Males typically need slightly more.
Need a quick reference to see how much fiber you’re getting? Check out this cheat sheet here: https://www.med.umich.edu/mott/pdf/mott-fiber-chart.pdf.
Too much fiber or too much too soon can be quite constipating as well. If you find you’re deficient in fiber, slowly add fiber into your diet. We suggest 1-2g per week. And make sure to drink plenty of water with that extra fiber.
While there’s no magic number of glasses to drink per day, pay attention to your voids. Light yellow urine indicates adequate hydration.
Tried out these tips but still struggling? It could be your pelvic floor muscles. It’s time to visit your local pelvic floor physical therapist for some help.