My Physio team and I have developed the following top four toilet tips to help you optimise your bladder and bowel habits – these are fundamental to our health and well-being. I hope you find them useful, and perhaps a catalyst for change to improve your “bottom line.”
1. Sit and Slow Down
In our modern, fast-paced lifestyle, we tend to rush through the day to get it all done. But toileting should not be rushed, or issues will prevail. Use your toilet time to slow down, sit down (never hover), take a deep breath or two and completely empty your bladder or bowel without straining. Taking your time (and being aware of what normal habits are, i.e. voiding every 2-3 hours of volumes between 200–400mls), will prevent the need to “retrain” your bladder all over again.
2. Resist the Urge
If you have a tendency to urinate too often (less than 2-3 hours), with small volumes (<200mls), then it’s important to defer the urge. Start by taking 3-5 deep breaths, deliberately slowing down the exhale. Next, apply pressure to the perineum (skin between your scrotum/vagina and anus) by sitting on your heel. Toe curling or calf raises are great as they share the same nerve supply as the bladder and this helps dampen ‘the urge’. Lastly, use positive affirmations – wait or hold.
3. Optimal Hydration
Recent research has started to question the idea of hydration. Whilst it’s important to drink enough, it’s equally important not to over-hydrate – this dilutes essential body-salts, negatively effecting cell function and metabolism. Secondly, it will also increase the need to go to the toilet for no gain. Recommended daily intake of fluid is between 1.5-2L per day, and if you exercise, sweat or breastfeed, then 2-3L per day. Your urine smell and colour should be pale, with no scent.
4. Bowel Habits
With 20% of us suffering from constipation, good defecation habits are key. Research shows we should empty our bowels at least 3 x a week, it should take no longer than a minute to start a motion, and 5 to complete. If this doesn’t sound like you, consider your fluid intake (optimal is 1.5-2L/day), your diet (do you get adequate fibre?), your exercise (150 mins of moderate intensity p/w) and your sitting posture. Remember, you shouldn’t strain to pass a stool!