Constipation is a pretty horrible feeling. It gets even worse when you’ve been constipated for days, wanting nothing more than to release the pressure in your bowels, to no avail. The simple act of pooping, a normal part of being human, should not be so difficult. But for many people, it often is.
If you find that you get constipated often, your first suspect as to why might be your diet and lifestyle (more on that later). However, in those moments when you’re just trying to use the toilet without a battle, try this one simple trick: lean forward.
Why should I lean forward?
The natural position for humans to poop — which we were using for thousands of years until just a few centuries ago — is squatting. Positioning ourselves in a squatting position helps us to eliminate the contents of our bowels more effectively. Some products, such as the Squatty Potty, add on to your toilet and allow you to poop while squatting. Doing this may help to prevent hemorrhoids, colon problems and some urinary issues, along with aiding with preventing constipation.
However, in our modern world, it’s not always practical to squat. Some people with mobility issues may also find it more difficult to perch in this position. So, the next best thing is to lean forward while you’re pooping. Simply sit down, let your tummy touch your thighs and relax. This will help you to better eliminate the contents of your colon. Try it, you may find that you have to strain much less than if you were sitting upright.
Leaning forward is the simplest and often most effective way to make pooping easier, especially when you’re having trouble in the elimination department. There are also other things you can do if you find yourself constipated often. The following are a few important ones.
Use a stool
While using a stool doesn’t exactly put your body in a squatting position, it may be helpful for some people. Simply get a small step stool or foot stool, and place it under your feet when you’re sitting on the toilet. Using a stool combined with leaning forward may help you to evacuate your bowels more effectively. Try it and see if it works for you.
Massage your lower back
If you’re leaning forward with your legs propped up on a stool and you’re still feeling “stuck,” try massaging your lower back. Simply run your fingers up and down the sides of your lower spine. It may help to go in small or large circles. Press as softly or as hard as you like — just don’t hurt yourself. Doing this may help move things along.
Now that we’ve covered a few ways to poop more easily, here are a few ways to help prevent yourself from getting constipated in the first place.
Drink more water
Your body needs water — it’s a clear and simple fact. If you suffer from chronic constipation, the first thing you should do is keep track of how much water you are drinking. If you’re not getting eight glasses a day, and you have hard, difficult to pass stools, then you need more water. Try getting those eight glasses per day, every day, and see if things improve. If dehydration is the cause of your constipation, you might be in the clear within a few days of drinking an ample amount of water.
Eat more fiber
Fiber is one of the main nutrients that keeps our digestive systems in good working order (it also has many other important benefits, including protecting our hearts). If you’re not getting enough fiber in your diet, it is much more likely that you may become constipated. To remedy this, simply add more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes to your meals. Not just the juice! Try the whole fruit or veggie.
Get more exercise
If you’re not moving around, your bowels may not be moving very well. A sedentary lifestyle is dangerous, and your digestive system may be one of the first systems to suffer. The simple remedy to this is to get more exercise! There are many options, and even something as simple as a brisk walk has a world of benefits. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each and every day (or at least three times per week if every day is impossible with your schedule).
Don’t sit so much
Even if you exercise, the time you spend sitting can harm you and your digestive health. If you have to sit for long stretches at work (or if you do it for recreation/relaxation), make sure to take breaks from sitting so that it is not continuous. Stand up and stretch at least every hour — more often is better. Whenever you can, go for a short walk or do some yoga poses. The less you sit, the better.
Consider more magnesium
Magnesium is an important mineral for digestion, so make sure that you have enough of it in your diet. You can choose to supplement (if you have the go-ahead from your doctor), just make sure you buy from a source you trust. Or, you can do this the all-natural way and eat foods that are high in magnesium. It’s found in abundance in dark, leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, cashews, sesame seeds and various types of beans, to name just a few sources.
Try prune juice
If you’re feeling seriously constipated, try drinking a glass of prune juice. This juice has been used to “move things along” for many generations because it is often effective. Just try to get an organic source of prune juice with no preservatives.
Lastly, if you’re feeling chronically constipated and nothing is helping, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor, just to make sure nothing else is up with your health.
— Tanya Mead