Got Pencil-Thin Poop? This is what it means

UmbrellaOnce upon a time, talking about poop could seem rude or even vulgar. Today, however, it’s a sign that you’re taking care of your overall health. After all, did you know that the appearance of stools can indicate bigger problems going on inside your body?

“As a pelvic floor physical therapist, I encourage my patients to really see,” says Megan Rorabeck, DPT, board-certified women’s health clinician and author of the book. into their poop and then tell me all the details. Mid-Hip: A Practical Guide for Women.

Rorabeck says that different stool shapes can indicate everything from severe constipation to a lack of fiber and provide insight into your pelvic floor.

How do you know if your stools are normal?

To determine if your stool says anything about your pelvic floor, you must first identify it. The best way to do that is with The Bristol Stool Chart. “It helped us begin to be able to identify the ‘type’ of stool we had, from Type 1 (constipation) to Type 7 (diarrhea), Rorabeck explains.

While the chart helps depict different stool shapes, Rorabeck notes that pencil-thin stools (a popular Instagram theme) are discarded. “Pencil-thin stools can be a sign that your pelvic floor muscles are tense,” she says. “If your pelvic floor muscles can’t fully relax, there’s a smaller hole for stool to pass through, which can lead to a pencil-like appearance.” According to Rorabeck, pencil-thin stools can range from hard (Type 2) to soft, normal consistency (Type 4), however, it’s usually Type 4, she says.

What to do if you notice pencil-thin stools

If you go to the bathroom and notice loose stools—for example, much thinner than usual—it’s most likely a weak and/or tight pelvic floor.

Emma Bromley, a Pilates teacher, postpartum specialist, and pelvic floor specialist says: “Here’s what you should know about engorgement (it also happens to almost any area of ​​the body): very Often, stiffness and weakness go hand in hand. , and is the founder of the Bromley Method. With that in mind, here are some ways you can release and strengthen your pelvic floor.

Release: Use a healing ball

Bromley explains: A therapy ball (such as the Acupoint Physical Massage Therapy Ball, $15) is about the size of a tennis ball, but has a very slight softness. To release a tight pelvic floor, she says locate the coccyx and the coccyx most of the sitting bones on one side, and place your therapy ball between those two points, sitting on it with your entire weight.

“Roll the ball in circles and notice if there are any areas that are particularly tight,” she instructs, noting to make smaller circles in the tightest places. “Breathe deeply and completely relax both your pelvic floor and abs as you do this move (imagine you’re about to pee, but you’re not).”

Check your shoulders and glutes—remove any muscle tension you may be holding. Take five minutes a day to do this for each side, for five to seven days in a row, says Bromley. “If you notice an improvement in BM, that gives us a clue that it is caused by tension in the pelvic floor. If nothing changes, see your doctor to rule out something more serious.”

Stretch: Take a deep breath

The way you breathe throughout the day can impact your pelvic floor: Rorabeck says you can lengthen it by breathing deeply through your belly.

“Instead of adopting a short upper chest breathing pattern, you will want to try a deep belly breathing pattern as is commonly practiced in yoga,” she says. “The easiest way to learn is to start by lying on your back with one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. The goal is to get the belly hand to move more than the chest hand, which shows you’re breathing deeply. by the belly.”

This works because of how closely the abs and pelvic floor muscles are related. “As you inhale, your diaphragm pulls down, your belly lifts up to lengthen your abs and pelvic floor muscles,” explains Rorabeck. “You may not feel anything in the pelvic floor at first, but that’s okay.” Still carrying on, eventually bringing the breath to the toilet. According to Rorabeck, it can help promote healthier bowel movements.

Enhance: Use a foam roller

Once your pelvic floor is relaxed and stretched enough, Bromley says to introduce pelvic floor strengthening. You won’t need weights, just a foam roller and patience.

“Sit on a foam roller with the roller in between your legs, knees bent, and shins flat on the ground (use pads if it’s a very firm roller),” Bromley instructs, noting spinal stretches, lower shoulders. , and look straight ahead. “Notice how your labia feels against the roller and make sure to keep that connection throughout so you aren’t tempted to do Kegel exercises.” (Breaking news: Bromley says Kegels can actually squeeze the pelvic floor excessively, leading to severe pain and dysfunction.)

Instead of doing Kegels, Bromley says to focus on 6 inches below your navel. “Imagine you are trying to lift all your internal organs without changing the position of your spine, without squeezing your glutes, and without stretching like you do with Kegels. It’s lifting your pelvic floor muscles,” she explains. “Hold that lift and imagine you’re wearing an old Victorian corset, and someone is wrapping and tying it around you. That’s your horizontal belly.

Once you’ve identified the pelvic floor and transverse abdomen, it’s time to breathe while keeping those two connections. For this exercise, you want to avoid bringing air into your abdomen. “Instead, think about taking a deep breath in the back of your chest,” says Bromley. “Continue to inhale and exhale deeply while maintaining the feeling of lifting and wrapping, without squeezing your glutes or letting your shoulders stretch or round forward. and do not strain your labia or lose connection with the roller.

Maintain this pose for 30-second intervals for 3 to 5 minutes per session, and Bromley says you’ll be ready to have a stronger pelvic floor.

Adopt good toilet posture

Last but not least, activate a healthy BM by adopting the right poop posture. While modern toilets may lead you to believe otherwise, the best, most effective way to actually poop is to elevate your knees above your hips (a stack of books or a squatting potty, 35). dollars, which can help you with proper posture). Sitting “normally” on the toilet can constrict the rectum, leading to watery stools.

This comfortable, squatting position, Rorabeck explains, relaxes the muscles that surround the rectum, the pubic rectal muscles. “Your stool has more room to move through the rectum, making it easier to pass.”

If you implement all of these strategies and find that the shape of your pencil-thin stool doesn’t change, Rorabeck recommends seeking pelvic floor physical therapy. To find a pelvic floor therapist near you, visit

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