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Six Pooping Mistakes

Hi friends! Do you strain on the toilet? Do you go several days without pooping? Do you have plenty of time to read a magazine while you poop? This week we are going to talk about 6 common mistakes made when pooping and what to do about them.

Straining/holding your breath

Not only can straining and holding our breath can make our pelvic floor work harder to get poop out, but we can be performing the Valsalva maneuver—which could make you pass out! Instead of straining open your mouth, take a breath, and say “Grrr.” This will help to relax the pelvic floor muscles to allow poop to exit.

Avoid ignoring the urge to go

While feeling the need to poop shouldn’t mean you need to drop everything immediately and run to the bathroom, it is a sign you should go soon. Ignoring the urge to poop for too long will cause stool to travel slightly backwards into the rectum, and this can make it harder to pass when you are ready to go. Instead, go when the urge signals. Ideally we would have a bowel movement daily.

Avoid hard poop or rabbit pellets

Poop that is hard and small is more difficult to get out, jut like poop that is liquid (diarrhea) is hard to keep in. Getting enough water and fiber into your daily diet can help keep poop like a squishy banana. Ideal poop is type three and four on the Bristol Stool Scale.

Minimize processed and constipating foods

All food is not created equal. Food that are processed can be slower to digest and therefore harder to pass. Foods with plenty of fiber help to keep stool moving along in our digestive system. The Cleveland Clinic recommends 14g per 1,000 calories in health adults. If you struggle to get enough fiber in your food, supplements like flax seed and psyllium husk can be a good alternatives.

Avoid clenched pelvic floor muscles, anus, and knees

Both tight pelvic floor muscles and having your knees together can make it harder to poop. Instead, visualize the pelvic floor muscles lengthening and opening to help relax the muscle that surrounds the anus. Make sure to bring your pants down to your ankles to allow you to have your knees wide apart.

Avoid straight, erect postures

Sitting up tall in a chair position tightens the pelvic floor (the puborectalis in particular) which kinks the rectum making it harder to poop. While it may not be realistic to squat down, like animals do, using something like a Squatty Potty can help to relax the puborectalis.

If you have problems pooping, it’s a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider. If some of the difficulty is from the pelvic floor muscles seeing a pelvic floor therapist can be helpful. Ask your provider for a referral to one or find one at

Here are some great resources to help you learn more about your pelvic floor:

For providers, check our online courses to help your clients. Consider joining our Ambassador Program and most of our courses are included with your membership!

Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT

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