Get those Bowel Muscles Moving!

Get those Bowel Muscles Moving!

Want regular bowel movement? Daily activities like walking, dancing, yoga and abdominal exercises, are great to help.

We're going to show you some easy exercises. But before we go into more detail, let's take a closer look at how bowel muscles work. And how keeping them toned is so important.

When someone is backed up, your large intestine may be the root cause. So where is the large bowel placed in the body? In short, it’s the final road your food takes before excretion. When we eat, food first heads down to the stomach, which churns the food up then moves it into the small intestine. The small intestine is the longest journey your food will take – it can be up to 7 metres long! The small intestine is where most of the nutrients from your food absorb. Once through the small intestine, it moves into the large intestine. This is a lot larger in diameter than the small intestine, but a lot shorter (about 1.5 metres). It then ends at the rectum and anal canal. The large intestine has the job of absorbing water and salt from food remnants. It then gets rid of any waste products (faecal matter).

All this movement through the digestive tract is managed by 'peristalsis'. Peristalsis involves alternating waves and relaxation of muscles within the organ wall. It moves food back and forth in motion, which mixes the food up and helps to move it along.

Bowel movements are also controlled by the pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor muscles can weaken from constant straining to pass stools. It can also happen when the pelvic floor muscles are too tight and unable to relax. Other causes can be due to pregnancy and childbirth, and as we age.

One of the best ways to get your digestive muscles moving, is to practice specific exercises. There are a few different exercises you can pick from below. All you need to do is choose one that best suits you and try to commit doing it on a regular basis.


Take a brisk 15 - 30 minute walk once a day, at least 3 times a week.

Walking stimulates the muscles in your intestines and helps move stools through faster.

Pelvic floor exercises

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the digestive tract.

The following are some examples of pelvic floor exercises.

  • Kegels
  • Squats
  • Bridge
  • Split tabletop
  • Bird dog

Or here is a gentle, alternative pelvic floor exercise to do while lying down, sitting or standing. This can be for those that are unable to practice exercise due to injury or other health issues:

  1. Squeeze and draw in your back passage and vaginal muscles
  2. Ensure you are not activating your buttock or abdominal muscles
  3. Ensure you breathe normally (don’t hold your breath)
  4. Hold for 10 seconds
  5. Relax and repeat about 5 – 10 times

Yoga - 4 Easy Poses

Yoga supports your digestive system organs. It increases blood flow, aids peristalsis and encourages stools to move. Here are 4 yoga poses that are excellent for keeping regular.

Warning: If you have a spinal injury, see your therapist before practicing yoga.

Follow these in sequence:

  • Half Spinal Twist (Ardhya Matsyendrasana)
  1. Kneel down with your legs together, resting on your heels.
  2. Sit to the right of your feet.
  3. Lift your left leg over your right, placing your foot against the outside of your right knee. Bring your right heel in close to your buttocks. Keep the spine erect.
  4. Stretch your arms out to the sides at shoulder level and twist around to the left.
  5. Bring your right arm down the outside of the left knee and place your right hand on the floor behind you. Look over you left shoulder.
  6. Breathe normally and hold for 30 – 60 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
  • Gas Release Pose (Pawanmuktasana)
  1. Lie on your back in a relaxing position (feet together and arms beside your body).
  2. Bring your knees towards your chest and press the thighs on your abdomen. Keep your knees and ankles together, with clasped hands.
  3. Lift your neck and tuck your chin into your chest. Hold this position, as you take deep, long breaths in and out for 4-5 seconds.
  4. You can also try rocking backwards and forwards or roll from side to side 3-5 times.
  5. Finish by returning to lying on your back in a relaxed pose. Feet slightly apart and arms away from your body, palms facing up.
  • Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
  1. Lie down on your front with your legs together and palms facing down beside your shoulders.
  2. While breathing in, engage the abdominal muscles and legs. Lift your head slightly, and gently curl your neck backwards.
  3. Keeping the head back and looking up and press your palms into the floor Now gently lift the shoulders and upper body. Keep the front of your hips on the floor.
  4. Try to distribute the stretch evenly along your spine. Breathe calmly and hold here for 5 to 10 breaths. Do not overstretch to the point of feeling pain in your lower back or neck.
  5. As you exhale, gently release and back to starting position.
  • Forward Bending Pose (Paschimottanasana)
  1. Sit up with the legs stretched out straight in front of you, keeping the spine erect and toes flexed toward you
  2. Breathing in, raise both arms above your head and stretch up. Now bend forward keeping your spine erect and extend your torso over your legs. Gaze at your toes and keeping your chin up.
  3. Continue bending and place your hands on your legs. Place them where comfortable and do not bend your knees.
  4. Stay in this position as long as you can or for 30 seconds if you are a beginner.

Practice your chosen exercise daily to encourage healthy, regular bowel movements. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and eat a well-balanced healthy diet too. Include a range of vegetables, fruit, legumes, beans and wholegrains. They can make a big difference!