top of page


Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Constipation is a gastrointestinal condition that is estimated to impact around 20% of the population. Common symptoms include infrequent bowel movements, typically less than three times a week, with dry and hard stool consistency, leading to difficulty in passing it. Many individuals with constipation often complain of a feeling of incomplete emptying.

What causes constipation?

Constipation occurs when the passage of waste through the digestive tract is too slow or when the stool cannot be effectively eliminated from the rectum. Consequently, the stool becomes more solid, drier, and harder to pass.

What’s the link between the pelvic floor and constipation?

Today, we will discuss the role of the pelvic floor in facilitating a proper bowel movement. For most people, this process occurs naturally without much thought. However, if there is a lack of coordination in the pelvic floor muscles (specifically the puborectalis - PR), it can result in difficulties during bowel movements.

Why is the coordination of the pelvic floor muscles so important for a bowel movement?

Increasingly, it is recognized that pelvic floor dysfunction can contribute to difficulties in bowel movements and constipation.

The puborectalis (PR) muscle, which wraps around the bowel and originates from the pubic bone, plays a crucial role in the continence system. During a bowel movement, the PR muscles should relax in a coordinated manner, straightening the back passage, and with a strong propulsion through the rectum, allow for easy expulsion of stool.

Up to 50% of individuals with chronic constipation have dyssynergy of their PR, where the muscle either fails to relax or reflexively contracts instead of relaxing during a bowel movement, leading to constipation.

How do we help with constipation?

Our Osteopaths will collaborate with your current healthcare providers to create a personalized treatment plan. They use various techniques to help your pelvic floor muscles relax and utilize biofeedback techniques to teach effective bearing down.

Osteopaths address tension within the abdominal region, which may restrict bowel movement, by working with your breath and facial system. We are well trained in visceral osteopathy which helps to address tension in the organs of the gastrointestinal system. They also offer education to develop a healthy bowel routine, provide defecation training, encourage good toilet habits with correct posture/stool, and guide you in appropriate breathing strategies during bowel movements.

Tips to improve constipation at home:

  1. Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly. Avoid rushing.

  2. Stay hydrated by drinking adequate water.

  3. Include a variety of fibrous foods in your diet.

  4. Engage in regular exercise.

  5. Consider abdominal massage.

  6. Spend time outdoors daily.

  7. Utilize a stool when sitting down for a bowel movement.

  8. Relax the rectum while on the toilet, allowing the perineum to bulge.

  9. Keep your mouth and jaw relaxed.

  10. Use low-toned sounds like "oooooo cha."

  11. Avoid delaying bowel movements.

  12. Practice relaxed breathing.

  13. Avoid straining and use proper breathing techniques.

  14. Avoid negative self-talk when using the toilet.


What is pelvic girdle pain blog
bottom of page