Yes, really. We’re talking about poop.
Recently, we noticed an uptick in people having some “bathroom” issues and asking questions about it within various groups. Someone posted, “How do you all poop?” Your first instinct reading this may be to chuckle a bit. However, living with herniated discs, especially in your lumbar spine, can make everyday bodily functions and hygiene activities feel impossible.
Everybody does it, but nobody wants to talk about it.
We decided to consult an expert to advise our readers and members on how to poop with less pain. It’s not sexy, but it is essential! Dr. Todd Sinett, Chiropractor, founder of Tru Whole Care, inventor of the BackBridge, and author of The Good Sh*t and other titles, has a lot of knowledge regarding our bodies and healthy bowel movements and make pooping easier.
Why is pooping so hard for back patients?
Many prescription medications can cause constipation, as can dehydration, poor dietary habits, and inactivity. All of these variables are familiar to those of us living with chronic pain. We don’t get an ideal amount of activity for healthy bowel movements. Our specialized groceries and anti-inflammatory diet can be expensive. Buying more fresh ingredients and eliminating things, like gluten and beef, can make our grocery budget grow quickly. And brain fog may get in the way of remembering to drink enough water.
Bearing down to poop can be incredibly painful. If a patient has herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or other painful conditions, especially in their lumbar spine, it may feel unbearable. Some patients avoid pooping for as long as possible since it’s challenging to sit and stand at the toilet, especially when a patient’s toilet is not handicap accessible or does not have a riser seat attached.
How do I know if my poop is healthy?
If your bowel movements are hard and pellet-like, that’s not a good poop, and you may be dehydrated. If your default bowel movement is diarrhea or very loose stool, that’s not good either.
In his book, The Good Sh*t, Dr. Sinett provides a no-nonsense perspective on healthy dieting. The focus, he says, shouldn’t be on whether you’re following a particular fad diet or eating “health food” instead of “junk food,” but how any food makes you feel. And… how it makes you poop.
Dr. Sinett writes:
“A good bowel movement is your body’s message of a job well done. Simply put: If you are having good, healthy bowel movements, then your body is ridding yourself of your waste products properly. If your body is ridding you of waste products properly, then what you are putting into your mouth is good for your digestive system.”
Bowel movements shouldn’t cause excruciating pain outside of the mechanics of getting on and off the toilet, which may complicate things. Poop should move through your system smoothly and without much effort.
My poop isn’t healthy. What can I do?
We’re all different, as Dr. Sinett points out in his book. “Everyone is unique, and what may be healthy for some could be un-healthy for others,” he writes. Thankfully, Dr. Sinett has several easy-to-implement dietary changes that may make pooping easier. We have some assistive mobility devices to recommend as well. Below, you’ll find three things you can do to make your diet more poop friendly. Then, two product suggestions for making it easier to poop with chronic pain.
Don’t suppress your desire to poop!
If your body tells you that you need to poop, it’s ready to get rid of waste material. If you’re suppressing your urge because you don’t want to poop in public, you could be doing a lot more harm than you realize.
“The longer stool stays in the colon, the more one reabsorbs some of the metabolic products (such as estrogen) that have been excreted in the bile,” Dr. Sinett writes. Just let it go, as the song says!
Hydrate or die-drate!
Dr. Sinett didn’t say that, but it’s one of our staffs’ favorite expressions. Hydration is such an essential factor to so many health elements that impact our quality of life. Hate drinking water? Good news! You can eat your water, too—fruits like watermelon and strawberries, and vegetables like celery, are great hydrating foods.
Never underestimate the power of hydration! As Dr. Sinett writes:
“Water helps to move waste materials along and is absorbed throughout the entire length of your colon. Insufficient water intake can cause stools to form far before waste materials reach your rectal pouch, which can cause constipation.”
Fiber, fermentation, and (healthy) fats, oh my!
Dr. Sinett recommends a fiber-rich diet. Believe it or not, fiber makes your bowel movements bulkier. This bulk is essential for forming healthy stools and moving waste through the large intestine. Further, Dr. Sinett suggests that fermented foods should be included in your diet. Not sure what to eat? Pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, and probiotic yogurts are just a few fermented foods that can easily be incorporated into your diet.
Finally, Dr. Sinett reminds us that there are healthy and unhealthy fats, and eating healthy fats is vital to our neurological health and gastrointestinal health. Healthy fats include foods like avocados, raw nuts, and extra-virgin olive oil.
My back hurts when I use the toilet. What should I do?
Body mechanics and posture can impact the ease with which we expel waste from our bodies. Want to know why the Squatty Potty is such a popular product? Because it works! As Dr. Sinett says it helps the user achieve a better pooping position. Squatting is a much more natural position for humans when expelling waste from the body.
Dr. Sinett goes so far as to challenge the reader to stand and squat on the rim of the toilet in bare or stocking feet while pooping. (I don’t think I’m that brave! The Squatty Potty is more my speed.)
Finally, if you are experiencing pain in your back getting on and off the toilet, consider some mobility devices—specifically, a toilet seat riser with or without handles. You could also try handlebars on the wall of your bathroom near the toilet for standing assistance. They’re also helpful for getting in and out of the shower/bathtub safely.
There’s plenty more to learn from Dr. Sinett, and we highly recommend picking up a copy of The Good Sh*t. Look for him on our site as well. He is just one of the many experts and physicians serving the SpineNation community by reviewing medical content, answering community questions, and contributing content.