Linger on the Loo!
Blog by Fiona Carter at www.fionacarterpilates.co.uk
As an Adore Your Pelvic Floor Coach and Teacher Trainer for Scotland I am from time to time sent samples. This could be anything from a Vaginal moisturiser to a biofeedback device. This month I received a “Go Better Folding Toilet Stool” from Kegel8. There are so many things that can contribute to pelvic floor disfunction and how you go to the toilet is one of them. So having a Go Better Stool for clients to see at my workshops is great, it's such a simple thing but can make a huge difference in. I know of one lady who after getting one for herself was so delighted with it she gave everyone in her family one for Christmas... I'm sure the Christmas thank you letters were interesting that year!
People often think of the pelvic floor as being one muscle that just needs to be pulled tight to seal up the pelvis like a manhole cover (no pun intended). Where as its quite a complex and dynamic structure, made up of several muscles, layers of fascia and ligamentous connections that should be able to move, flex and release in response to the movements of our body more like a three-dimensional trampette.
Any one who knows me will tell you I am an unashamed anatomy geek and find the body to be a fascinating and beautifully designed bit of kit. However, we humans are not always that great at looking after our bodies and often inadvertently work against out bodies natural functions... how we go to the toilet is one of those times.
One of the pelvic floor muscles is called the puborectalis. This muscle is formed of two parallel straps that run from the pubic bone, at the front of the pelvis, either side of the urethra, vaginal opening and rectum before joining together to create a loop around the back of the rectum.
When this loop pulls forward it helps to seal off the rectum by pulling it into a kinked position. However when we need to defecate (go for a poo) we need to allow this muscle to release so the rectum can straighten creating a straight shoot for the feacés to exit through. Without realising it many of us prevent this from happening, meaning that defecating is made difficult, sometimes painful and may be putting undue stress on the pelvic floor by bearing down creating more problems with pelvic floor function.
Humans are designed to go to the toilet in a deep squat. This position relaxes the pelvic floor and you are able to empty without any effort.... if you don't believe me think back to the last time you went to the toilet in the woods when you where camping. You may have noticed that going to the toilet is so much easier. You may have pee'd like a race horse and marvelled at the size of the puddle or urine you left compared to your regular struggle to empty at all.
So ideally we want to replicate this position. Our Western society and fancy toilets don't really encourage this.... and Squatting on the toilet bowl can be a precarious business, where you either threaten to break the toilet seat or risk sliding into the toilet bowl.... neither one is a win. So what should you do?
"Stop Hovering! Sit and Chill instead"
The best way to allow this muscle to relax is to make sure the angle between our spine and our thigh bones is 35º or less (this is your deep squat position) and then allow the muscles to relax. If we sit upright that angle is closer to 90º and the puborectalis will still be holding the rectum closed..... worse still you hover over the toilet seat (we've all done it in less that savoury public conveniences) which means you are closer to 130º or more and your pelvic floor is engaged to hold you in that "static squat/hover" position.
The "Go Better Stools" lift your feet and replicate that deep squat position, reducing the magic angle and relaxing the puborectalis making it easier for you to go without pushing, bracing or bearing down. Ideally you should lean forwards and rest your elbows on your thighs as well.
It very much a matter of preference some people love the little stools some people find them too high and prefer to lean forwards resting their arms on their thighs and possibly lifting their heels off the floor so they are in a relevé or high heeled foot position.
Women are especially bad at taking time to relax on the toilet. Whether we are going for a pee or a poo we treat it like a time sensitive task to be battled through at speed as if we have a stop watch on us. And lets face it the gathering crowd of children and pets who, unable to cope with the unbearable separation anxiety and leave you in peace for five minutes, whimper, whine and kick the door to be let in, making it nigh on impossible to relax... but give it your best shot anyway and I know I only have a dog and the noise she makes if I don't leave the toilet door open is unbelievable. To be fair she does insist on an open door policy at all times, so my toilet time is not treated any differently.
Next time your going to the toilet, even for a pee, see if you give your self a moment and relax your pelvic floor or do you brace and bear down as if you are trying to empty a toothpaste tube as fast as possible... If you fit into the latter group maybe you too need to re-evaluate your toilet habits and start to linger on the loo a little longer... go on, take your phone in to the loo with you and catch up with your Facebook friends for a few minutes... it's good for your pelvic floor.
In all seriousness if you do find it difficult to empty try leaning forward, resting your elbows on to your thighs and lifting your heels. Then relax for a few minutes allow your pelvic floor to let go.... you don't have to go immediately. If you have a tendency to be chronically constipated or find it difficult or painful to poo especially if you find that once you have passed a small amount of solid poo the rest is suddenly very runny or liquid you may find that just changing the position you sit on the toilet in and giving your self permission to relax and take your time will help enormously. Give it a try and let me know how you get on.
If you are interested in training with me, I'd love to hear from you so feel free to contact me directly. I teach in Edinburgh and the Lothians in Scotland as well as offering online training.
To find an Adore Your Pelvic Floor Coach in your area: https://adoreyourpelvicfloor.co.uk/courses/adore-your-floor-course/
If you are interested in training to be an Adore Your Floor Coach: https://adoreyourpelvicfloor.co.uk/courses/teacher-education-classes/
If your interested in the Kegel8 Go Better Stools: https://www.kegel8.co.uk/catalogsearch/result/?q=go+better
This Blog is not meant to be used as a treatment programme. While I hope you find the information I have shared interesting it is based on what I have found useful in my teaching over the years and the best and most current research. However, you should always seek the guidance of medical professionals in treating any condition. As a Pilates teacher I am not qualified to diagnose any condition. I would recommend seeking the advice of a good Physiotherapist or your General Practitioner. I would also recommend training with a Pilates Teacher who has completed a in depth training in the field. Pilates courses can vary vastly from short online trainings to three or four year in-depth full time apprenticeships. don’t be afraid to ask questions about your teachers training and experience. If you would like to train with me as a Pilates Teacher or as a Pelvic Floor Coach or find an Adore Your Pelvic Floor programme in your area. Get in touch – I'd love to hear from you.