It’s November and the holidays are upon us. They are a special time for family, gratitude and celebration, but they can also be a time of increased stress and deviation from our daily routines.  Our diet, sleep and exercise routines often change.  With that being said…are you aware of your current habits? Is your digestion “normal?”  What is your “normal” fiber or water intake was for the day?  When things are running smoothly, we don’t tend to give them a second thought.  It’s like a furnace… as long as it’s giving us heat we don’t have to think about it.  However when the furnace is on the fritz, it becomes a big priority and we can’t stop thinking about it…especially during November in the Midwest! Knowing your normal now helps you listen and change your habits when your digestion no longer feels normal, rather than letting things get worse.

Constipation is one of the most common digestive complaints in the United States.  Constipation is a condition in which a person has uncomfortable or infrequent bowel movements. Generally, a person is considered to be constipated when bowel movements result in passage of small amounts of hard, dry stool, usually fewer than three times a week.  Though occasional constipation is very common, some people experience chronic constipation that can interfere with their ability to go about their daily tasks. Constipation may be considered chronic if you’ve experienced two or more of these symptoms for the last three months.

Signs and symptoms of chronic constipation include:

  • Passing fewer than three stools a week
  • Having lumpy or hard stools
  • Straining to have bowel movements
  • Feeling as though there’s a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements
  • Feeling as though you can’t completely empty the stool from your rectum
  • Needing help to empty your rectum, such as using your hands to press on your abdomen and using a finger to remove stool from your rectum

Traditional treatments for constipation include:

  • Diet and lifestyle changes: increasing fiber and water intake
  • Increasing activity level: daily exercise
  • Use of stimulant laxatives
  • Use of stool softeners and or enemas
  • Over the counter medications

What you may not realize is…Pelvic floor therapy can be useful in the treatment of constipation:

  • Education and awareness of pelvic floor muscle dysfunction
  • Biofeedback
  • Manual therapy techniques
  • Postural re-education
  • Exercises to improve mobility and motility