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Stress, Menstruation, Early Pregnancy Failure, Diarrhea, Digestive Problem, Cervical Cancer, Cramp, Stomachache, Unhealthy Diet, Gastritis.

Bloating and Back Ups

By Dr. Brooke Meinema, DPT, FAFS

Dealing with abdominal bloating and constipation can be incredibly frustrating. If you have been struggling with either of these issues, here are a few helpful tips.

Ways to manage bloating:

  • Adopt a better eating posture:
    • Bring the foot to your mouth instead of leaning forward to bring your mouth to your food! When you lean forward and bring your head forward, this kinks your esophagus (throat) making it more difficult to swallow and can create increased ingestion of air.
    • Before you eat, work on trunk rotation to open up your core and abdomen and prepare your body for digestion.
  • Chew your food!
    • As you chew your food, digestive enzymes are released that allow for better food breakdown, digestion, and absorption. If your food is not chewed well enough, large particles work their way through your digestive tract leading to reduced absorption and other digestive problems, which can include bloating and gas.
  • Slow down:
    • Eating too much too fast can make it difficult for our body to fully break down and digest food as well as allow more air to be swallowed, which can lead to more gas and bloating. Take the time to assess how your body is feeling as you eat instead of eating on the run.
  • Reduce tension through your obliques and diaphragm:
    • Increased tension through the rib cage and diaphragm can lead to distension through the abdomen. If you are dealing with abdominal distension and bloating, work on fully relaxing your abdomen in a hands and knees position allowing your belly to hang and relax.

Ways to manage constipation:

  • Adopt a better toilet posture 
    • The ideal position for defecating is having the knees elevated and feet flat resting on a surface. There are different products on the market like a Squatty Potty that can help with finding the optimal angle for defecating. The angle your hips are at allows a muscle in your rectum to relax creating greater ease for defecating.
  • Consistency
    • Using the bathroom regularly can help! Keeping good bathroom habits (see earlier blogs about bathroom habits here and here), trying to keep a consistent bathroom schedule, and listening to the cues your body is telling you are important.
  • Avoid bearing down
    • Try to avoid bearing down. This increases pressure in the pelvic floor and can lead to other issues. Instead, working on breathing with intention. Imagine you are breathing to blow a pinwheel. If you need to, you can also try rocking back and forth to encourage movement in the bowels and pressure through the abdomen to further things along.
  • Increase hydration
    • Water helps to keep your digestive system on track to prevent bloating or bowel/bladder issues.
  • Move
    • keeping your body moving will help your body continue moving things along through your digestive tract and prevent issues such as constipation. Regular exercise encourages digestion, food breakdown, and gut motility.
  • Belly massage
    • Lying on your back with legs bent to relax the tissue.
    • Massaging inside left pelvic bone to drag along the inside of the pelvic bone
    • Massage from the top left abdomen down to the inside of the left pelvic bone
    • Massage the top right abdomen, over to the top left, and down to the pelvic bone
    • Massage inside the right pelvic bone, up to the right abdomen, over top left, and down to the left pubic bone

If you have any questions or are curious about how physical therapy can benefit you, feel free to contact us 616.847.1280 to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our skilled pelvic health physical therapists.

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