Exercises to help constipation

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Constipated? Get Moving with These 4 Exercises

When constipation hits, your first instinct may be to curl up in the fetal position and clutch your stomach. However, getting off the couch and moving your body is much more beneficial. In fact, physical activity is one of the most effective lifestyle hacks for loosening your bowels and keeping yourself regular.

Although almost any exercise can be useful in helping stool pass more easily through your intestines, the following four methods are the ones most commonly recommended for people living with chronic constipation.

Cardio

Cardio exercises that get your blood pumping are probably the simplest form of physical activity to help avoid constipation. Whether it’s running, swimming, cycling, or dancing, a cardio workout will increase your breathing, boost your heart rate, and stimulate your bowels.

Even if you don’t feel up to a full-on workout, just going for a brisk 30-minute walk can do wonders for your digestive system. As an added bonus, cardio is one of the best ways to relieve stress, which can be a major risk factor if you experience chronic constipation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. If possible, try to do 30 minutes a day at least five times a week.

Yoga

Practicing yoga is another great way to help get your bowels moving and relieve constipation. Certain yoga poses work to massage the digestive tract and help to move stool through your intestines, particularly those that involve sustained twisting of your torso or crunching of your stomach muscles.

Here are three easy poses you can try to ease constipation:

Wind-relieving pose

As the name suggests, this pose can help to ease the discomfort of bloating and gas, as well as stimulate your bowels and improve overall digestion.

  1. Start by lying flat on your back with your legs fully extended in front of you.
  2. Slowly raise your right knee up to your chest and hold it in place with your arms for a count of 20 breaths.
  3. Release your knee and let your leg extend fully in front of you again.
  4. Perform the same action with your left leg for another 20 breaths.
  5. Repeat the process once more, this time holding both legs to your chest.

Seated twist

This is a great pose if you’re new to yoga. It’s very easy to do!

  1. Sit comfortably on the floor with your legs fully extended in front of you.
  2. Bring your left knee up so that your foot rests flat on the ground close to your buttocks.
  3. Twist your core by placing your right elbow on the opposite side of your left knee and looking over your left shoulder.
  4. Hold this pose for five deep breaths, and then release.
  5. Repeat the same action on the opposite side of your body.

Supine twist

This is another twisting pose that can help to massage your digestive tract and stimulate blood flow to your stomach muscles.

  1. Lie flat on your back and bring both of your knees up to your chest.
  2. Stretch your left leg out straight.
  3. Keeping your shoulders pressed against the floor, move your right knee across your body to the left and look toward your right.
  4. Hold this position for 20 breaths and then release.
  5. Repeat the same process on the opposite side of your body.

Pelvic floor exercises

Your pelvic floor is the layer of muscles at the bottom of your pelvis that include your bladder and bowel. By working these muscles out, you can build up their strength and help them to push stool through your colon more easily.

Here’s a quick and easy exercise routine for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles:

  1. Sit comfortably on the floor with your knees shoulder-width apart.
  2. Imagine that you are trying to stop yourself from passing gas, and squeeze the muscles around your anus as tightly as possible.
  3. Hold for five seconds, and then release and relax for a count of 10.
  4. Repeat this process five times.
  5. Now do the same thing, only at half strength.
  6. Repeat this process five times.
  7. Finally, squeeze and release the muscles tightly and quickly for as many times as you can before you get too tired to continue.

Deep breathing exercises

Practicing deep breathing is another easy way to help improve your digestive functioning and relieve any stress that may be contributing to your constipation. The great thing about deep breathing exercises is that they only take a few minutes and can be performed virtually anywhere.

This quick deep breathing exercise is called the 4-7-8 technique:

  1. Sit in a chair with your back straight and your hands resting comfortably in your lap.
  2. Breathe out through your mouth, exhaling completely.
  3. Close your lips and inhale through your nose for a count of four seconds.
  4. Hold in your breath for a count of seven seconds.
  5. Exhale completely through your mouth for a count of eight seconds.
  6. Repeat these steps three more times for a total of four complete cycles.

Takeaway

Although it may require a bit of trial and error to find out which of these exercises work best for you, staying active is an important part of managing your constipation and reducing your stress levels.

Always consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen to avoid causing undue strain on your body. If you feel like you’re experiencing any health issues that weren’t present before trying out a new physical activity, stop using that method and contact your doctor as soon as possible.

6 Ways Your Workout Can Change Your Poop

You’re 45 minutes into barre class when it hits you, suddenly and without warning: the urge to go. Your stomach just gurgled so loudly, you’re certain the woman plié-ing to your left heard it too. You glance at the clock on the studio wall, and try to gauge whether you can make it till the end of the hour.

If this scenario sounds familiar, you should know you’re not alone: Nobody wants to discuss their exercise-induced bowel movements, “but it’s a common problem and worthy of being brought out of the closet … or out of the bathroom,” says Nancy Clark, RD, author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

Clark has had clients ask her, “Am I the only person who carries toilet paper with me on a run?” The answer is definitely not. Lots of fit folks experience gastrointestinal issues mid- or post-workout, she says, ranging from loose stools to constipation. And for some people, physical activity can actually have a positive impact, helping to alleviate digestive woes. Here are six ways breaking a sweat can affect your system.

Your intestines get jostled a bit

The more you move, the more your intestines move. “Movement will affect digestion because it will help move food contents, gas, and stool along the digestive tract,” says gastroenterologist Sophie Balzora, MD, assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health. As a result, you may feel a sudden need to go. This is actually why many doctors recommend exercise to people who are chronically constipated, Dr. Balzora adds.

Any type of activity can get things moving, but running is a well-known culprit: “Runners are more likely to complain about intestinal problems than, say, cyclists, who stay more steady,” Clark says.

RELATED: How to Make Yourself Poop Before a Run

Your blood flow changes

When you exercise, “your body will divert blood to the muscles that are doing most of the hard work,” says Dr. Balzora. Your digestive system is a lower priority, and that can lead to diarrhea—aka runner’s trots.

This problem is more common among newbie runners, says Clark. Increasing your mileage too quickly can do a number on your digestive system. To spare yourself emergency trips to the toilet, follow the standard advice to ramp up by about 10% each week. “Sometimes it’s about training the intestinal tract to get used to a longer distance,” she says.

If your symptoms persist though, it may be worth seeing a doctor. Your workouts could be aggravating an underlying condition like irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Make Every Poop a Great One

You may get dehydrated

When your workout leaves you drenched in sweat, make sure you drink enough to rehydrate—or you could end up with a bout of constipation (as well as a slew of other health woes). If you get backed up, try drinking more water throughout the day, Clark says. You’ll know you’re hydrated when you need to pee every two to four hours, and your urine is light yellow in color.

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Your pre-workout snack might screw with your digestion

Fiber is generally good for your system, but eating too much of it right before you exercise can lead to gas, cramping, or the urge to poop—stat, says Dr. Balzora.

It may take some experimentation to figure out which foods work best for you (and your bowels) before a workout, says Clark. “Some people have cast-iron stomachs—they could have a can of baked beans and go for a run and everything is fine! Other people would say no to baked beans for two or three days before.” Safer choices include bananas, granola bars, oatmeal, or toast with peanut butter, Clark says.

And if you rely on sports gels or chews to power through a long run or ride, check the ingredients. Artificial additives and sugar substitutes can also lead to loose stools, says Dr. Balzora.

RELATED: What to Eat Before and After Every Kind of Workout

Yoga may soothe your system

Like running and other types of exercise, yoga can stimulate BMs, says Dr. Balzora, especially if you’re constipated. But the effect might not be entirely due to bending and twisting your body. “We know the brain-gut connection is quite strong, and anxiety and stress can cause us to have abdominal pain or discomfort and irregular stools,” she explains. By lowering your stress level, yoga may also help soothe your digestive woes too.

What’s more, practicing yoga may strengthen some of the pelvic floor muscles that keep things moving through the GI tract, says Marc Sonenshine, MD, a spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association.

RELATED: 14 Yoga Poses for Digestion

Regular exercise can help keep you regular

Sedentary folks are more likely to find themselves backed up, says Dr. Balzora. And although a lack of physical activity is likely just one of several factors that cause that constipation, getting consistent exercise can’t hurt. “Becoming more active on a regular basis can help regulate the bowels,” she explains.

Healthy habits in general are probably good for your bathroom habits too, says Dr. Sonenshine. “A healthy lifestyle makes for a healthy colon.”

OI Issues: Constipation

Introduction

Constipation is a problem for some people with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). Constipation, in medical terms, is a decrease in frequency of stools or bowel movements with hardening of the stool. As a consequence, people with constipation may feel bloated and have gas but find it difficult to pass stools. Because the stool becomes quite hard, passing it may be uncomfortable and lead to further unwillingness to try, especially in infants and young children. Fecal impaction, or clogging of the bowel with hardened stool, can be a serious complication. Treatment of constipation in people with OI is often challenging.

  • Causes of constipation
  • Managing constipation
  • Diet and fluids
  • Exercise and activity
  • Home remedies
  • Medications
  • For your information

Causes of constipation

Constipation can be caused by inadequate dietary fiber, lack of exercise, and dehydration. Colon obstruction and illness are additional causes. Some medications, especially painkillers, can cause constipation because they decrease the normal motion and movement of the bowel. Adults with OI and parents of children with OI are encouraged to check with their doctor or pharmacist about side effects and possible drug interactions from their medicines and dietary supplements.

OI may contribute to constipation, especially in people with the short stature and pelvic malformation. The colon and bowel may be prevented from functioning normally if the hips and pelvis are narrow or malformed. A specific pelvic malformation, known as acetabular protrusion, can affect some people with OI Type III and cause a predisposition to constipation. Diminished mobility and low levels of physical activity also contribute to constipation.

Managing constipation

Managing constipation usually involves a combination of approaches. It is essential to determine the extent of the problem and develop a plan to correct it. Doctors advise:

  • Keep a record of bowel movements, diet, and fluid intake. Even when a child appears to be “regular,” keeping records about diet, illnesses, exercise, and bowel movements will help caregivers figure out if something in particular triggers the problem.
  • Be consistent about diet, exercise and activity, and fluid intake.

Children and adults with OI who become constipated often respond well to diet changes, a change in activity level, and mild home remedies. The primary care doctor should be consulted about the appropriateness of home remedies. A nutritionist or registered dietitian may offer useful suggestions for modifying the diet. If the problem persists, a gastroenterologist may be needed.

Treatment choices for constipation include:

  • Diet and fluids.
  • Exercise and activity.
  • Certain home remedies.
  • Medications.

Diet and fluids

These changes to the diet can help people with constipation:

  • Gradually add fiber to the diet, including whole grain breads, whole grain cereals, bran cereals or muffins, and popcorn.
  • Increase the amount of fruits, fruit juice, and vegetables.
  • Reduce the amount of processed foods and refined sugars.
  • Avoid “junk” foods that are high in fat and low in fiber.
  • Include foods, such as yogurt with active cultures, which contain the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus.
  • Drink water throughout the day.

Strive for a diet that keeps the stool soft. Too much fiber has the secondary effect of creating too much bulk for someone with a connective tissue disorder. This can put pressure on the rectum. This pressure, along with inactivity, too much prolonged sitting, the lax or elastic muscles that a person with OI tends to have in the pelvic floor, and chronic constipation can lead to a more serious problem called rectal prolapse.

Exercise and activity

Adding exercise and physical activity can help prevent and relieve constipation. Exercise helps move digested food through the intestines. Infants, children, and adults who sit, recline, or use a wheelchair require regular position changes. People should consult with their primary care doctor and physical therapist about beneficial exercises that suit their particular needs and abilities. For example, infants benefit from water play that encourages them to kick. Children and adults can benefit from swimming, walking, or bicycling.

Home remedies

Home remedies may include:

  • Allowing enough time on the toilet. Some doctors suggest 10 to 15 minutes at least twice a day.
  • Enemas, but only when recommended by a doctor.

Medications

For some children, regular medication or even a prescription laxative may be necessary. Use of medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter, must be discussed with your doctor.

Children on medication need to be carefully monitored. Taking a medication too often can reduce its effectiveness or aggravate negative side effects.

Medications for constipation can include:

  • Suppositories.
  • Mineral oil.
  • Stool softeners.
  • Laxatives, such as Senokot.
  • Prescription laxatives, such as MiraLAX.

Talk with the doctor about all treatment options, including home remedies. Persistent, painful constipation should not be ignored, and a referral to a gastroenterologist may be required.

Staying well hydrated, eating a healthy diet, and increasing exercise can reduce the frequency of constipation in children and adults who have OI.

The National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~
National Resource Center acknowledges the assistance of the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation in the preparation of this publication.

For your information

This publication contains information about medications used to treat the health condition discussed here. When this publication was developed, we included the most up-to-date (accurate) information available. Occasionally, new information on medication is released.

For updates and for any questions about any medications you are taking, please contact

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Toll Free: 888-INFO-FDA (888-463-6332)
Website: https://www.fda.gov

For additional information on specific medications, visit [email protected] at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/daf. [email protected] is a searchable catalog of FDA-approved drug products.

NIH Pub. No. 18-7915

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Constipation is often clinically defined as having three or fewer bowel movements a week. Sometimes this is about expectations; people generally feel like they’re not “healthy” if they don’t have a bowel movement every day. But three bowel movements a week can be normal for some people, especially if that has been their pattern for a long time.

There are many other factors that affect how people perceive bowel movements. According to the Rome IV criteria of constipation often used in research, frequency alone doesn’t explain all complaints of constipation. Patients complaining of two or more of the following also qualify for a diagnosis of constipation:

  • feelings of incompletely evacuating (not getting everything out)
  • straining
  • lumpy or hard consistency of the stool
  • sensation of blockage
  • using a finger to dislodge the stool.

When constipation is a problem, there are two main reasons for it: slow movement of the colon and pelvic floor dysfunction. Treatment for slowed movement of the colon is usually laxatives and drugs to move your colon. But getting your pelvic floor evaluated is worthwhile, because a diagnosis of pelvic floor dysfunction typically involves nondrug treatment.

Pelvic floor dysfunction

The pelvic floor is a muscular bowl that encompasses the rectum, bladder, and (for women) the uterus. There is a complex interaction among these different organs. In the act of defecating, or having a bowel movement, the anal sphincter (the group of muscles at the end of the rectum) has to relax, and the abdominal muscles need to contract.

A common analogy I give is that it’s like getting toothpaste out of a tube. When you want the toothpaste to come out, you loosen the cap and press on the tube. However, if you leave the cap on or even tighten it, pressing is not going to get the toothpaste out. In the same way, some people who have constipation fail to relax, or actually tighten, their anal sphincter, while using their abdominal muscles to contract the colon when they are trying to defecate. This leads to feelings of incompletely evacuating; hard, small stools; or even feeling like you have to use your finger to get the stool out.

These uncoordinated pelvic floor dynamics are usually diagnosed with a test called anorectal manometry, which uses a thin tube to measure pressures, sensations, and reflexes in the rectum and anal sphincter.

Biofeedback-based physical therapy to treat pelvic floor dysfunction

The good news is that treatment typically does not involve medications. Instead, treatment involves physical therapy in the form of biofeedback. Currently, the best way to undergo physical therapy is in a private setting, with the help of a trained physical therapist who coaches you on the dynamics of defecating. During these sessions, the physical therapist inserts a probe into your anal sphincter and places sticky pads on your abdomen, to detect the movement of your anal sphincter and abdominal wall as you simulate defecation.

By doing this, you receive feedback (either visual or verbal) on what you are doing with your abdominal wall muscles and anal sphincter during a bowel movement. The physical therapist will lead you through breathing exercises, as well as muscle strengthening and relaxation exercises, in order to help you retrain the movement and coordination of your pelvic floor.

There are currently no devices available for at-home training, but such devices are undergoing research and development.

The physical therapist will also discuss dietary recommendations including increased water and fiber consumption, positioning techniques (like using a Squatty Potty), or massaging your abdomen to stimulate the gut.

The usual time commitment is about four to eight sessions, one session a week. Like physical therapy for your shoulder or your back, learning what you have done in physical therapy takes time and also practice at home. Some people understand and incorporate these techniques right away, and others take more time and practice.

How effective is biofeedback for constipation caused by pelvic floor dysfunction?

In a study of biofeedback for pelvic floor dysfunction compared to laxatives (the usual treatment for constipation), nearly 80% of people undergoing biofeedback had improvement in constipation compared to 22% in the laxative group. The effect also seems to improve over time, up to two years.

Retraining your body to change the way you have a bowel movement takes time. But it could potentially help with all of the symptoms of constipation.

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Constipated? Try exercising!

Firstly, one likely cause of constipation is stress. A yoga practice can help tackle stress and allow you to relax. The concentration on your body and the stretching and releasing of tight muscles can go a long way to ease internal tension and promote healthy digestion.

When you are stressed, the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system can lead to constant and unnecessary muscular tension. This can trigger tightness or dysfunction in the psoas muscle. The psoas (which is a hip flexor, connecting the femurs to the lower spine via the pelvis) massages your organs and intestines as you breathe and walk. If it is tight and not functioning correctly, this can have an impact on your digestion. Gently stretching and releasing the psoas as part of your yoga routine can have a positive impact on your constipation.

Yoga classes often encourage deep breathing. This alternately pushes down on the intestines and releases them, stimulating their natural contractions. As a Shiatsu practitioner, I am used to using the map of the body provided by Chinese medicine. It’s worth noting here that the Lungs and the Large Intestine are paired organs, and influencing a healthy intake and discharge of air in and out of the Lungs is considered to have a beneficial effect on the function of the Large Intestine. (We capitalise the first letter of all the organs, as in “Lungs”, to mark that we are referring to the Chinese rather than the Western body map).

Other things to think about when practising yoga: backbends target the Stomach and Spleen meridians (as per Chinese medicine) on the front of the body. Stretching them can help bring relief for many kinds of digestive complaint. Inversions are great for digestive issues as you move the muscles and organs out of their usual relationship with gravity and require them to explore new ways of working: this can enhance release and relaxation as well as encouraging action in parts of you which are normally inactive. (NB please work with an experienced yoga teacher especially when learning inversions.) Twists are considered excellent for massaging the internal organs and are always used as part of “detox” sequences. Sun salutations (of any kind) alternately compress and stretch the gut as you move repeatedly through spinal flexion and extension. This supports the natural contractions of the intestines.

When should I exercise?

It is best to leave some time between eating a meal and exercising – ideally an hour – although this depends on how much you’ve eaten. When you eat, blood flow is increased to the digestive organs and the GI tract. When you exercise that blood flow is concentrated elsewhere.

The more the blood flow can be appropriately concentrated on the digestive system, the stronger the muscular contractions of the large intestine are and the less likely you are to suffer from constipation.

A great blog to have a look at is – A beginners food guide: What to eat before a 5K or 10K run – it goes into much greater detail about how much to eat and when, prior to running (but it could apply to any aerobic activity).

A summary

What to do:

  • consider what factors might be influencing your constipation
  • make sure you’re exercising
  • try aerobic exercise, or yoga and stretching, or combine the two, using the stretching as your warm down.

What not to do:

  • don’t forget to drink when you exercise
  • don’t stay inactive and sedentary
  • don’t exercise immediately after eating
  • don’t over-exercise – too much hard exercise can lead to diarrhoea

Still need some help?

If you still feel as though you need something to kick start your bowel movements, our nutritionist Ali’s top herbal tip is Linoforce. This contains linseed, coated with senna and frangula and is a licensed herbal remedy for the relief of constipation. Chew the granules well and take with plenty of water.

Can’t quite remember the last time going #2 felt like, well, second nature? While it may be tempting to reach for some OTC relief, consider hitting the yoga mat instead.

Can yoga poses really help?

“Movement in general is important for stimulating the bowels to help move the food bolus, gas, and, ultimately, waste, through your system,” says Rebekah Gross, M.D., gastroenterologist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Yoga is beneficial also in terms of stress reduction, which is important in treating many GI disorders, but particularly in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, where the mind-body connection is of central importance.”

Since feeling clogged up can seriously suck, we asked Bethany Lyons, co-founder of Lyons Den Power Yoga in New York City, for some yoga poses moves that would get us…moving. So without further a-poo (sorry—couldn’t help ourselves), here are seven yoga poses that just might help relieve constipation, alleviate digestive issues, and generally make your time on the toilet a little more pleasant.

RELATED: 8 Reasons Why You Can’t Poop—And How to Fix That

Seated Meditation

Lyons Den Power Yoga

How to do it: Sit cross-legged on a blanket, or on a yoga block, so your hips are higher than your knees (A). Then, set a timer for five minutes—and chill (B). “Focus entirely on your breathing,” says Lyons. “Take your attention off any thoughts that come in, and keep bringing your attention back to your breath.” In other words, try not to think about the fact that you’ve been constipated for the past three days.

Why it works: “We’ve all heard of the fight-or-flight response,” says Lyons. “And while it’s helpful in truly dangerous situations—like, you know, if a bear is headed your way—it wreaks havoc on our systems when it’s elicited in our daily lives…When you’re wound up and stressed, you resemble a tense, jittery ball. It’ll be virtually impossible to have a healthy elimination in that state.”

Super-stressed lately? This yoga pose can help:

RELATED: 10 Foods to Eat When You’re Constipated

Standing Forward Bend

Lyons Den Power Yoga

How to do it: Stand with feet hips-width distance apart (A). Hinge at the hips to fold forward, drawing the chest toward the thighs, bending your knees if necessary. Stack the hips over the ankles and let the back of the neck relax. (B). Drop your arms towards the floor, or grab opposite biceps to draw deeper into the pose (C). Press into the soles of the feet without gripping the toes, and firm up the legs (D). Take 10 deep breaths.

Why it works: “This pose calms the nervous system and causes compression in the abdomen area, which will aid digestion,” Lyons says.

RELATED: Does Pooping Actually Affect Your Weight?

(Tone up, beat stress, and feel great with Rodale’s new With Yoga DVD.)

Downward-Facing Dog

Lyons Den Power Yoga

How to do it: Start on the ground on all fours, then tuck your toes under, straightening your legs, and pressing into the hands, ending in an upside-down “V” (A). Hands should be shoulder-width distance apart or a little wider, and feet should be hips-width distance apart (B). Press firmly into the palms of the hands, bend the knees slightly, and tilt the tailbone toward the ceiling. Take 10 deep breaths.

Why it works: “Down Dog allows for traction of the spine and creates space in the body where there’s usually compression,” says Lyons. “It’s a full-body stretch that allows a release of tension, contributing to a build-up in the digestive tract.”

RELATED: How Likely Are You to Poop During Anal Sex?

Wind-Removing Pose

Lyons Den Power Yoga

How to do it: Lie on your back with both legs extended straight (A). Draw the right knee into the chest with both arms. Hold for 20 breaths (B). Return to the start position and then reach the right arm overhead to stretch the length of the right side of the body (C). Hold for 10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Why it works: “This is the pose for bloated bellies, as it helps eliminate gas—as the name of the pose so boldly claims,” Lyons says. “It stimulates the ascending, descending, and transverse colon, as well as the stomach and small intestines. The order in which it is performed—right side, then left—can help stimulate the bowels and ease constipation.”

RELATED: 9 De-Bloating Tricks, Ranked in Order of Effectiveness

Triangle Pose

Lyons Den Power Yoga

How to do it: Begin in a wide stance on the mat, with your front toes pointing to 12 o’clock and your back toes to 9 o’clock. Face the front of the mat, arms raised to 90 from your sides (A). Keep both legs engaged and straight as you surf the upper body toward the front of the mat. Deeply bend at the front hip crease, and let the front hand come to a block or the floor on the outside of the front ankle (B). Reach the opposite hand straight up toward the ceiling. Hold for 10 breaths. Come back up to standing and pivot the feet to repeat on the other side.

Why it works: “Side bending energizes the digestive juices through stimulation of the gallbladder and liver,” says Lyons. “The inherent twisting motion tones the obliques and energizes abdominal organs.”

RELATED: What Nutritionists Eat to De-Bloat All Day Long

Seated Twist

Lyons Den Power Yoga

How to do it: Begin seated with legs straight out in front of you (A). Bend the right knee and cross your right leg over your left, placing the right foot outside of the left knee. Keep the left leg long (B). Wrap the left arm around the right leg, placing the right hand on the ground behind the sacrum (low back) (C). Lengthen on the inhale, and deepen the twist to your right on the exhale. Take 10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Why it works: “This pose is like wringing out a wet rag,” says Lyons. “The twisting massages the digestive tract to stimulate detoxification.”

RELATED: 9 Fruits That Cause Belly Bloat

Supine Twist

Lyons Den Power Yoga

How to do it: Lie flat on the ground and hug the right knee into the chest (A). Draw the right knee across the body toward the left, “T” the right arm out toward the right side, and look at the right hand (B). Gently press the right thigh toward the floor with the left hand or arm. Or “T” both arms and let gravity do the work (C). Hold for 10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Why it works: “This pose is like the final wringing out of the body in a relaxed state,” Lyons says. “Twisting on the right first and then the left will increase the movement of the bowels.”

Practice Yoga with Women’s Health

8 Methods To Encourage A Bowel Movement

If you find yourself having difficulty going to the toilet, there a number of non-medical methods to encourage a dormant gut to relieve you of constipation.

Firstly, if you notice a change in your regular pattern, you shouldn’t start to worry. If you make a few simple changes you are likely to find yourself getting back to normal habits.

You may consider one, or more, of the following to encourage your gut to get back to normal (though we acknowledge prune juice may not be to everyone’s taste).

  1. Lemon juice – take a glass of water mixed with the juice of half lemon both before bed and when you wake up. You may want to drink with a straw as you could find your teeth becoming sensitive after a regular course of lemon water.
  2. Olive oil – consuming a teaspoon of olive oil in the morning on an empty stomach can encourage stool to flow through the gut. The oil acts as a lubricant in the digestive system meaning it’s easier for solids to slide through. It also softens up the stool, making it easier to pass.
  3. Prune juice/dried prunes – one of the more traditional remedies for constipation. Prune juice lacks the fibre of the dried fruit but both are high in sorbitol content, which acts as a laxative.
  4. Stewed apricots – destone and chop a punnet of apricots in half. Put in a saucepan with 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar, add two tablespoons of water and turn to a low-medium heat. Stew until they begin to soften then take off the heat and leave with a lid on to cool. These are delicious for breakfast and go fantastically with yoghurt and granola.
  5. Fluids – There are a million and one reasons why it’s great to drink water. Aiming for 2.5 litres/12 glasses a day will ensure you’re refreshing your system and helping to break down any food in the gut. A mug of hot water is great for settling the stomach and encouraging the peristaltic process.
  6. Hot beverages – whilst we all tend to enjoy a tea or coffee as a refreshment or pick-me-up, they do have a diuretic effect. Diuretics increase the production of urine, meaning we have to visit the loo more than usual. Bare this in mind when drinking coffee to help encourage a movement. Tea and Coffee work in a similar way to hot water in that the heat helps to break down solids.
  7. Avoid foods with a high-fat content – The body has a hard time processing fat. Especially with Western diets, the bile producing gallbladder (the material that helps break down fat) is stretched to its limit. It’ll do the entire body some good to cut down on the burger and chips.
  8. Positioning – If you, like me, have felt the urgent need to relieve yourself but arrived at the toilet only to find you can’t go, you may find adjusting your toilet positioning helpful. It’s imperative you stay patient, don’t force it as this could cause damage. Have your knees higher than hips, and keep a straight back. You may find it handy to keep a toilet stool in the loo. When the time comes, tense the stomach to encourage movement, rather than the rectum.

If you do notice a change, and it continues for an extended period of time despite dietary changes, you should see your GP to find out if there is anything they can suggest to help with your situation.

The 7 Best Yoga Poses for Constipation (Do These for Quick Relief)

by: Yuri Elkaim

No one likes to talk about it, but being constipated can feel really uncomfortable.

Your belly feels strained, bloated, full, and distended. And when you actually do go to the bathroom, you might feel like you’re never completely able to clear your bowels.

Medically speaking, constipation is classified as passing fewer than three stools per week, having hard stools, experiencing difficulty with bowel movements, or feeling like you aren’t completely evacuating your bowels.

And when we’re feeling “backed up,” all too often we turn to pills and over-the-counter remedies. The truth is, they usually work pretty well as a quick fix.

But unless you treat the problem at its source, these treatments just cover up the underlying problem without fixing it.

I’ve talked before about how to get rid of bloating and ways to improve digestion to stop constipation in its tracks. A high-fiber diet full of fruits and vegetables and making sure you’re drinking enough water are two big factors for preventing constipation. Not to mention these 3 natural cures.

But did you know that there are exercises to relieve constipation fast?

Yoga Poses for Constipation

While any type of exercise will help you with regular bowel movements and also with improving digestive health, yoga stands out as one of the best types of exercise for treating constipation.

That’s right – besides being great for boosting flexibility, circulatory health, and muscle tone, yoga is a great way to keep your digestive tract moving and prevent constipation.

Yoga relieves constipation by working in two different ways.

First, it helps you reduce stress. This is important because stress is a major contributor to constipation and can cause things to get blocked up fast if you’re not careful (1).

You might have heard of the “fight-or-flight response” – it’s a physiological reaction designed to protect us in dangerous situations.

When you detect an attack or any kind of threat to survival, your sympathetic nervous system is activated, which prepares you to fight or flee quickly.

This response originated back in the days when our ancestors were in danger of being eaten by tigers and other wild animals. But, while most of us probably won’t have to face hungry tigers any time soon, our fight-or-flight response still gets activated during stressful situations (2).

It also sets off a cascade of hormone secretions, which affects your body in many different ways, including by decreasing the peristalsis (movement) of the bowels.

Think of your gut as a highway. For things to work efficiently, the road needs to be clear so that cars can move along. When you have chronic stress, everything gets slowed down and eventually traffic starts to pile up until nothing is able to move at all.

And second, many yoga poses also work by increasing blood flow, massaging the digestive tract, and pushing things along through the system so that your body is able to form healthy bowel movements and prevent constipation.

The twisting motions in many yoga are especially helpful for promoting elimination, plus relieving tension and support detoxification.

Incorporate these yoga poses for bowel movement stimulation into your daily routine and you can say goodbye to the straining and bloat for good!

7 Yoga Positions for Constipation

1. Downward Facing Dog

This position is the perfect yoga pose for constipation because it stretches your entire body and releases tension. This can also help relieve any buildup in the digestive tract, getting things moving and putting an end to constipation.

To get into this position:

  • Start all fours on the floor.
  • Tuck your toes under and straighten your legs, pushing down through your palms.
  • You should be forming an upside-down “V” at this point.
  • Keep your feet hips-width apart with your arms a bit wider at shoulder-length.
  • Bend the knees very slightly and hold for 10 deep breaths.

2. Matsyasana Twist (Seated Twist)

When you’re in this position, the twist of your body stimulates the digestive tract and can even help spur detoxification.

This is one of the simpler yoga poses, which makes it perfect for beginners.

To get into this position:

  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you.
  • Bend your left leg and put your left foot on the ground, near your bottom.
  • To twist, put your right elbow next to your left knee and look over your left shoulder, twisting and stretching the body.
  • Hold for a few deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.

3. Wind Relieving Pose

Source: Yoga Basics

If you’re practicing yoga for constipation and gas, this pose should be a staple in your routine.

The name of this pose is fitting, as this position is ideal for deflating bloat and reducing gas. It also helps stimulate the colon, small intestine, and stomach, which means it will help with overall digestion.

  • Lie flat on your back with both legs stretched out straight in front of you.
  • Slowly bring the right knee up into your chest and hold with both arms for 20 breaths.
  • Stretch it back out again and repeat with the other side.
  • Then draw both legs into the chest and hold to complete the stretch.

4. Crescent Twist

Source: Yoga Journal

This pose twists your body even more than seated twisting positions, so it’s great for massaging the digestive tract and helping peristalsis to move food through the body.

To get into this position:

  • Standing straight up, go down into a lunge with your forward foot over your knee and keep your back leg straight and balanced on the ball of your foot.
  • Then, place your hands in prayer position and twist down towards the bent leg, putting your arm on the outside of the bent leg for support.
  • Hold for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.

5. Child’s Pose

The purpose of this pose is to relieve tension and reduce stress. As I mentioned above, over time, stress accumulates and can quickly take a toll on your digestive health, leading to constipation.

With chronically high levels of stress, regularity in your bowel movements is just about impossible.

Child’s pose is perfect for all levels of yogis, from beginner to advanced.

To get into this position:

  • Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet tucked under, about hip-length apart.
  • Lean forward into the mat, and stretch your arms out in front of you, slowly inching forward until your forehead touches the mat.
  • Breathe deeply and hold the pose, releasing any tension and letting stress drift away.

6. Standing Forward Bend

Practicing this pose can help relieve stress and calm your nerves, which means improving the function of the digestive tract. Plus, it compresses the abdomen to optimize digestion and prevent constipation.

To get into this position:

  • Start by standing straight up with feet hip-width apart and then fold down, pulling your chest towards your thighs.
  • If necessary, bend your legs to make this pose easier.
  • Drop your arms down and push your palms on the floor or grab opposite arms to really feel the stretch.
  • Hold this pose for 10 breaths and then relax.

7. Supine Twist

This yoga pose is awesome for your digestive health for several reasons.

First, the twisting motion of this pose massages the intestines, helping to expel waste, move food along, and detoxify. Plus, it stimulates blood flow to your gut, which can improve digestive health.

To get into this position:

  • Start by lying flat on your back and drawing both legs up to the chest.
  • Extend the left leg straight out, bend your right leg, and bring it to the left across your body. Keep your back and shoulders pressed against the floor and look towards your right.
  • Hold for 20 breaths and then repeat on the other side.

Regular Yoga to Keep You Regular

Give these 7 yoga poses for constipation a try and your digestive system will be moving again in no time.

Or, try creating your own custom constipation-fighting yoga routine. Any twisting pose can aid in stimulating peristalsis and reducing constipation while simple meditative poses alleviate gas and bloating by slashing stress.

I recommend making a little time each day to practice a few yoga poses. This can get your day off to a great start and prevent stress from building up over time.

Health-Boosting Bonus

Plus, it gives you all the amazing health benefits of yoga even if you’re pressed for time.

Best of all, no fancy equipment is required if you’re looking to start practicing yoga. All you need is a yoga mat, but even that is optional for many poses.

I personally start each morning with my quick and simple five minute yoga routine. This helps me feel limber, flexible, and energized and keeps my mind totally and focused.

If you’re hoping to start yoga to alleviate constipation or take advantage of its many other health benefits, pick a few of your favorite poses and set aside a few minutes at the beginning or the end of the day. Your digestive system will thank you.

Feeling Bloated and Sluggish?

You can gently “cleanse” your body to help it function better – and my FREE 1-Day Detox Plan is a great way to help your body naturally detoxify.

You’ll eat delicious cleansing meals that will help ban bloat, cut sugar cravings, and leave you feeling energized in just 24 hours.

And you can get started right now by clicking the image below!

Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.

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