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Go Like A Pro, Things To Do (And NOT To Do) While Using The Toilet, According to a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

Have you ever wondered if you’re going to the bathroom correctly? It’s something that most people never think about but you may be surprised to find out that some of the things you’re doing in the bathroom may not be the best for you.

Here you’ll learn how to use the toilet like a pro with these tips from a pelvic floor physical therapist.

Why is a physical therapist going to tell me how to use the toilet?

A pelvic floor physical therapist is actually the perfect person to teach you how to use the toilet!

If you haven’t read our other posts, a pelvic floor physical therapist is a physical therapist who specializes in helping people with  issues in and around the pelvis and pelvic floor muscles,  And the pelvic floor plays a major role when using the toilet.

The pelvic floor muscles are what allow you to hold and release urine and stool, so they are super important in the realm of the bathroom. Since the pelvic floor muscles are so closely related to your bladder and bowel, a pelvic floor physical therapist is actually extremely knowledgeable regarding the best way to use the toilet.

We’re going to separate the tips to first cover tips for urinating and then we’ll cover tips for defecating. (perhaps 2 separate blogs?) These tips are intended to help you stay healthy when urinating and when having a bowel movement which are both two very important bodily functions!

Things TO DO And NOT TO DO While Urinating

DO empty your bladder when you need to, DON’T empty your bladder, “just in case”.

What do we mean by “just in case”? This means when you empty your bladder when you don’t actually have the urge to urinate. You just choose to empty it ‘just in case’. 

For example, you’re leaving your house and going to the grocery store. You don’t feel like you need to urinate but you do anyway. This seems innocent, but if you continually empty your bladder when it’s not actually full because you’re going ‘just in case,’ this will eventually change the sensation of your bladder.

If you empty your bladder when there’s no urge to urinate, it’s probable that your bladder isn’t actually full. Continually emptying the bladder when it’s only around half full (or less) can eventually train your bladder to signal the need to urinate prematurely, potentially resulting in problems like urinary urgency or urge urinary incontinence.

For this reason, try not to empty your bladder ‘just in case’.

The normal range for emptying your bladder is every 2-4 hours during your waking hours.. If you feel like you have the urge to urinate more frequently than the normal range, such as every hour or every half hour, that’s not normal and a pelvic floor physical therapist can help!

DO relax while you urinate, DON’T strain.

When you urinate, your pelvic floor muscles need to relax.

When you strain, you are not able to relax the pelvic floor muscles properly. This not only can make it difficult to urinate, it also can lead to improper bladder emptying.

So relax while you’re urinating, no straining!

If you sit to urinate, DO actually fully sit on the toilet, DON’T hover over the toilet.

I’m sure most of us who sit to urinate have hovered at one point or another in some gross, unclean public bathroom, but this shouldn’t become a habit.

Your pelvic floor muscles need to relax when you empty your bladder and this is very difficult for them to do when you hover.

So if you can sit, don’t hover. Your bladder will thank you.


Things TO DO And NOT TO DO While Having A Bowel Movement

DO breathe while you defecate, DON’T hold your breath.

DO NOT hold your breath while having a bowel movement, this is very dangerous. Make sure you breathe!

More specifically, try to exhale as you gently push to eliminate stool.

But remember at the end of the exhale, inhale again. Don’t hold your breath at the end of the exhale!

DO allow the rectum/anus to relax, DON’T strain

The correct way to have a bowel movement is to gently push or bear down through the pelvic floor. Bearing down is when you lengthen the pelvic floor muscles.This is different from tightening the pelvic floor muscles.

While the pelvic floor muscles relax, the abdominal muscles gently tighten to help with elimination. As the abdominal muscles gently tighten, this is when you exhale.

Remember, even though the abdominals are working, there still should be absolutely NO straining.

DO go to the bathroom when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, DON’T delay.

When you have the urge to have a bowel movement, go to the bathroom.

Delaying going to the bathroom when you have the urge to defecate can lead to issues such as constipation.

So when you have to go, go!

DO spend less than 10 minutes in the bathroom, DON’T sit on the toilet for more than 10 minutes.

If you’re spending more than 10 minutes in the bathroom trying to have a bowel movement, this is too long.

If you can’t go after 10 minutes, get up and come back to try again later.

Consider using a stool like a squatty potty to elevate your legs while defecating. 

Most people will have healthier bowel movements if they use a stool under their feet. A common brand that offers stools for this purpose is called ‘squatty potty’.

A stool helps to put your body in the most ideal anatomical position to have a bowel movement.

To use a stool for bowel movements, you’ll place your feet on the stool while sitting on the toilet. The height of the stool should allow for your knees to be above your hips. This mimics a squat like position but you are still sitting which helps the pelvic floor muscles relax, allowing for easier elimination. 

Precautions: This is not recommended if you’ve had a recent hip replacement or if you’re still on precautions from a hip replacement.

Now you know the things to do and not to do while using the toilet!

If you’re struggling with urinary or bowel related issues, a skilled pelvic floor physical therapist can help!

Contact ITR Physical Therapy today at 301-770-7060 or book online here to schedule an appointment with our experienced Bethesda and McLean pelvic floor physical therapy team.