12 Exercises for Constipation Relief

21 May, 2020

Woman in warrior yoga pose.

Constipation can be a real BUMmer. Feeling like you have to take deuce but can’t or struggling to pass a stool are both symptoms of constipation. While this can be an uncomfortable situation, it is common and usually isn’t a very serious condition. With a little bit of deuce-sleuthing, you can usually find out what's causing you to be backed up worse than an LA traffic jam. The most common reasons for becoming constipated include:

  • Diet
  • Stress
  • Hormonal imbalance 
  • Medications
  • A lack of exercise
  • Not pooping when you feel the need to
  • Medical conditions like IBS

There are lots of ways to help prevent constipation, namely drinking enough water, eating fibrous foods, and pooping when you feel the need to. These are all great strategies to help PREVENT constipation but what if you need relief now? One of the best ways to relieve constipation is to exercise! Exercising can stimulate your digestive system by helping food move through your digestive tract more effectively helping you to stay regular.

Below you’ll find a guide to the best exercises for constipation that can help you get your system flowing again. Don’t worry about hitting all of these exercises, just pick a couple that seem fun or interesting. Ready? Let’s get started!

Yoga Poses

With a history dating back 4000 years to ancient India, yoga combines physical exercise with meditative breathing. This ancient practice has made a resurgence as people have become aware of the multitude of benefits that yoga provides.

One of the benefits of yoga is that the different poses and exercises help promote digestive health. This is due to the various positions that your body goes through which helps move waste through your digestive tract. 

Here are a few of the best yoga poses that are known to be particularly effective at promoting regular bowel movements:

Wind-Relieving Pose

Woman in wind relieving pose.

  1. Lie on your back with legs and arms outward stretched.
  2. Draw both of your knees toward your chest as you exhale and put your hands around them.
  3. Holding your right knee, extend your left leg outward along the floor. Hold this pose for up to one minute.
  4. Bring your knee back and repeat with your right leg.
  5. The last step is to bring both knees back to your chest and bring your hands around them again.
  6. Finally, release your knees and extend your legs back to the floor and rest.

Cobra Pose

Woman in cobra pose.

  1. Start by lying face down on the floor with your legs extended behind you. 
  2. Place your hands on the floor below your shoulders.
  3. Lift your head and chest off the floor as you inhale.
  4. Keep your gaze on the floor or if you are flexible enough you can look toward the sky.
  5. Draw your shoulders back as you straighten your arms.
  6. Only straighten your arms to a level that you're comfortable with.
  7. Hold the pose for up to 30 seconds.
  8. Exhale and lower your head and chest back to the ground.

Half Spinal Twist

Woman in half spinal twist pose.

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched.
  2. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.
  3. Slide your left foot under your right leg and lay your left leg on the floor.
  4. Step your right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor so your knee is pointing straight up.
  5. Slowly twist your body toward your right thigh as you exhale.
  6. Set your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh.
  7. Slowly twist your head to the right to increase the stretch.
  8. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat for the other side.

Cardio

“Cardio” is short for “cardiovascular” which relates to the heart and blood vessels. Cardio is any type of aerobic exercise that helps condition your cardiovascular system. This includes exercises you're probably familiar with like running, walking, hiking, cycling, swimming skiing, and dancing.

Cardio exercises are great for people suffering from constipation as the exercise helps move digested food through your digestive system. The benefits of using exercise to prevent constipation is that exercise is free, anyone can do it and there are a multitude of health benefits.

Here are a few exercises that have been shown to be particularly effective at preventing constipation:

Running

Older man running.

  1. Wear a comfortable pair of athletic shoes that provide arch support.
  2. Dress comfortably in athletic breathable attire depending on weather conditions.
  3. Find a suitable location to run such as a park or a school track.
  4. Make sure to do some light stretching to warm up your muscles.
  5. Begin by slowly jogging at a comfortable pace.
  6. Try to hit the ground on the mid to front part of the foot and avoid striking the ground with your heel first.
  7. Increase your speed until you are a pace that is challenging for you yet doable.
  8. As you become more comfortable running over time consider going on longer runs or increasing your pace.

Biking

  1. Select a bike that is the right size for you. Most bike shops will be able to help you select a bike with the correct frame size.
  2. Make sure to wear a helmet anytime you ride your bike.
  3. Choose where to bike. This could be a park, on the street or any other place that is suitable for bike riders. Make sure to follow the rules of the road and watch out for vehicles on the road.
  4. Start riding! As you become a stronger biker you can select longer routes and increase your speed.

Walking

  1. Choose a pair of comfortable walking shoes. These could be athletic sneakers or any other shoe that you can walk in comfortably.
  2. Wear appropriate attire depending on the weather conditions.
  3. Select a walking route and begin your walk.
  4. If you’d like a bit more challenge, try and increase the distance that you walk and increase your pace to get an extra cardiovascular workout.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor muscles cover the pelvic region and support the pelvic organs such as the bladder and bowel as well as the uterus in women. These groups of muscles are sometimes referred to as your “core” muscles. According to the Mayoclinic, up to half of the people who have chronic constipation have pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD). 

By strengthening your pelvic floor muscles you can help improve the function and coordination of your muscles which can lead to regularity and improved evacuation. 

Below we’ve highlighted some helpful exercises that can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles:

Bird Dog

Woman in bird dog pose.

  1. Begin on all fours and place your hands on the floor under your shoulder and knees under your hips.
  2. Reach your right arm forward and your left leg back so your right arm and left leg are parallel to the ground
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat the same steps for the other side.
  4. Repeat for 5-10 reps.

Squats

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Extend your hands out in front of your body to help you maintain your balance.
  3. Bend your knees and hips as you move squat toward the floor.
  4. Squat down low as you keep your head and chest lifted. Your knees should be over your ankles.
  5. Push through your heels to bring your body back into a standing position.
  6. Repeat! 3 sets of 10 repetitions is a good place to start.

Bridge

  1. Lie on your back with your legs outstretched.
  2. Bend your knees so both knees are pointed up with your feet on the ground.
  3. Extend your arms along the sides of your body with your palms facing down.
  4. Push down with your arms and feet while simultaneously lifting your chest.
  5. Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds.
  6. Release the pose and allow your back to touch down on the ground and extend your legs again.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing exercises are exercises that bring consciousness to your breath to help trigger the relaxation response in the body. By increasing the relaxation response you can help regulate stress which can be beneficial to your digestive system. Stress can cause a multitude of health issues including constipation so by increasing your relaxation you will be well on your way to helping optimize your digestive function. 

Here are a few of the most common deep breathing exercises that can help relax your body and mind:

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Woman practicing alternate nostril breathing.

  1. Find a comfortable place on the floor or on a chair where you can sit uninterrupted for a few minutes.
  2. Slightly lift your head so that you lengthen your spine.
  3. Rest your left palm on your left knee and bring your right hand to your nose.
  4. Gently close your right nostril with the thumb on your right hand.
  5. Slowly inhale through your left nostril then close it with your ring finger.
  6. Take your thumb off your right nostril and slowly exhale.
  7. With the right nostril still open, slowly inhale the close it with your thumb.
  8. Open and slowly exhale from your left nostril.
  9. Repeat this process 5-10 times.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

  1. Lie on your back on a flat surface while supporting your head and bending your knees.
  2. Place one hand on your chest and the other directly below the ribcage.
  3. Slowly breathe in so your stomach moves out and presses against your lower hand. The hand on your chest shouldn’t move.
  4. Tighten the muscles in your stomach and allow them to fall inward as you exhale with pursed lips. The and on the upper chest should remain still and not move.
  5. Repeat for 5-10 minutes. You can use this technique 3-4 times per day in the beginning while gradually increasing the amount of time.

4-7-8 Breathing

  1. Slowly inhale for a count of 4 seconds.
  2. Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
  3. Make a whooshing sound as you slowly exhale for a count of 8 seconds.
  4. Try to repeat this 4 times in the beginning and gradually increase as you become more experienced.

Key Takeaways

There are many proactive steps you can take to help prevent and relieve constipation through simple exercises as mentioned above. Taking a conservative first approach to health issues is always best so if you're suffering from constipation try some of the exercises you’ve learned about in this article. Also, keep in mind that it's always a good idea to tell your doctor about any bowel changes you’ve noticed. 

Another great tool for those with constipation is to use a bidet. Tushy offers one of the best bidet attachments on the market so make sure to take a look and see which model is right for you!

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