Are you a "shit and get off the pot" kinda person or a "see you in half an hour" kind of person? Perhaps you're both depending on the day.
I'm sorry to have to break the bad news to all the bathroom readers/thinkers/texters, but:
a) if it is ACTUALLY taking you over 10 minutes to drop a deuce, you've got problems
b) if it doesn't and you're taking some "you" time, you're causing problems
Here's the deal:
Your intestines push the poop out in a smooth (involuntary) muscle contraction wave called peristalsis. Your butt muscles aren't doing a damn thing. Perhaps you think your abdominal muscles can help with the act of bearing down, but that actually doesn't actually get poop out either. However, what that bearing down with the relaxation of your pelvic floor muscles is doing is stretching the hell out of your pelvic floor by increasing the pressure in your abdomen, which is a BIG problem. Why do you ask?
Bearing down to poop is an issue for two main reasons:
- It can cause hemorrhoids, which are bulging blood vessels in your rectum that are itchy, painful and frequently bleed.
- Spending 30 minutes stretching a group of muscles is going to weaken them and cause a host of problems down the road.
Okay, okay, so I think I've made my point about why you shouldn't plunk your ass on the can for half an hour a day (possibly even two or three times). "But seriously lady, it actually takes me 30 minutes to go number 2." Here are some things we need to look at:
1. Are you visiting when nature calls?
Remember, pooping is an involuntary process. When your feces hits your rectum (your poop shoot,) stretch receptors send a signal to the brain that says "it's go time." If you don't go, reverse peristalsis happens and your poop goes back into your colon. That feeling is familiar... you really have to go for a bit, then it eases off. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal though and it'll just travel back down soon enough right? Well, the main goal of your colon is to absorb water - it's the poop dehydrator. You know when you you have runs and it's liquid? Well, it's because it's speeding through the colon. So once your turd gets hits a red light at your rectum, it crawls back up into your belly and the colon absorbs even more water from the feces. Then bam, you've got rock solid rocket that's condensing even more - think fresh homemade Play Doh one the first trip and three year old Plasticine in the kindergarten bucket on the next. What happens if you hold it in again? It's even dryer, harder and more compact. When that dried out rock solid rocket makes it's way back to your rectum and you decide it's time to go, it's so much harder to pass. Ya'll know what I'm talkin' 'bout. It can also easily lead to hemorrhoids or anal tears. Seems rather horrifying, but the point is: listen to your body.
2. How's your fluid and fiber intake?
Our bodies are anywhere from 55-70% water (depends on a few factors.) When we take in fluid, it needs to be distributed to blood, our brain and spinal cord, our muscles, our organs, our connective tissue, our mucous membranes... I could seriously go on for days about the fluidity of our bodies, but you get my drift. The body works in a bit of a hierarchy and the heart and the brain trump the digestive system for who gets water first. We need to drink enough water so that all the systems are adequately hydrated.
That was a bit of a detour to say that when we drink enough water our stools are softer and they're easier to pass and fiber keeps everything fluffy for lack of a better word so when it's time to escape, it's a bit squeezable at the end.
3. How do you sit on the throne?
Here is a fabulous video that shows why you should squat at the pot. I really can't describe it any better than this guy...
Okay so you're going to give that all a go, excellent. It may take some adjusting to get your guts into prime working order so here are a few tips to set you on the path to fecal freedom:
- Get enough sleep and find ways to decrease your stress. The opposite of "fight or flight" is "rest and digest" for a reason. We may not be getting chased by tigers, but our bodies respond to stress is the same way. Meditation, massage, yoga, spending time in nature, taking a relaxing bath are just a few ways you can turn off your on switch and shift into rest and digest mode.
- Move - a lot. Walking, running, yoga, trampoline bouncing, dancing, cartwheels, weight lifting and all kinds of other things actually shift your guts around and promotes movement of food through your digestive system.
- Get a visceral massage. A trained manual therapist (massage therapists and osteopaths) will work wonders shifting things around in your abdomen to make sure things are moving along smoothly.
- Give yourself a belly massage. Here's a short video on how to get things moving with a Coregeous® ball. I teach this regularly in Yoga Tune Up® classes and workshops. I can't tell you how many times I've had students tell me they had the best poops of their lives after rolling their bellies.