WC help

Pooping. Not a topic most of us feel comfortable discussing. But guess what? We all do it. However, some have an easier time of it than others. For those who suffer pooping difficulties it can really make life miserable. One’s entire life can revolve around whether to force it, or sit and wait, or just refuse to leave the house just in case the urge hits. If you have ever had trouble pooping it is easy to describe the severe discomfort that occurs in the belly, lower abdomen or even low back.

The fact of the matter is that all of the structures related to eating and drinking are inter-connected within a system of tissue called fascia. Once we look at the important relationship of the intestines, bladder, and muscles and their interaction with the abdomen, pelvic and hip bones, you might be surprised out how important addressing this dysfunction is, rather than ignoring it or chalking it up as a “normal sign of aging.”. “Normal” fascia runs from the abdomen, belly and trunk muscles down into the floor of the pelvis and hip joints. So any stress or trauma in the organs (liver, gallbladder, stomach, intestines, bladder) can have a direct effect on the muscles, (belly, back, buttocks, hip, and thigh), which overlap and intertwine with the organs, fascia, and nerves. “Stress” can have many faces in the body. Surgeries, injuries, nervousness, anxiety, child bearing changes, weight loss or gain are just some of the stressors that can affect intestine and bowel health.

Bowel dysfunctions can include:

  • Constipation
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Incomplete emptying of bowel
  • Inability to hold back gas
  • Inability to pass gas
  • Fecal Incontinence
  • Malabsorbtion (Celiac Disease)

Unfortunately most of these issues are chronic, meaning lasting for more than 6 months. Many people deal with these issues for a large portion of their lives. When considering the relationship of these organs to structure and muscle tissue think of the effects they can have on movement. If your belly is chronically tight your movements can therefore be tight. The spine might not move in all of the directions necessary to develop core strength and stability. Constant downward pressure, due to chronically full bowels, can cause chronic tension on the muscles. Chronic tension in these muscles can translate into pelvic, hip, or even low back pain and muscle weakness. The nerves that supply these organs and muscles can also be affected.

So when considering whether pooping is a pain in your butt, remember the importance of re-educating the muscles and bone structures involved. Pelvic floor therapists are specially trained in re-educating the habitual movement patterns (how we walk, sit, move) that can occur as a result of chronic bowel dysfunction. Manual therapies to first introduce tissue health and then re-train postural and movement habits as well as changing bathroom behaviors can be the key to change pooping from a pain in the butt to the best way to start your day!


by Denise Nichols, OTR/L