6 STRETCHES TO RELIEVE CONSTIPATION | TRAINING, AND BENEFITS

Reviewed by: Horia Marculescu, MD
Last updated: 04.2021


Two girls are stretching on the floor using a fitness mat to relieve constipation.

If you want to do stretches to relieve constipation in the comfort of your home, then learn how to train with the following ones:

  • Up and down shoulder stretch
  • Clockwise hip stretch
  • Deep squat
  • Supine twist
  • Crescent twist
  • Cobra stretch

By doing shoulder stretches, you will be able to contract the upper abdomen and create pressure inside the intestines. Hip stretching will contract and expand the lower abdomen, even more to move the stool towards the rectum.

Deep squat hip stretches will increase the anorectal angle and will create a clear path for the stool to evacuate. Bowel movement and defecation will become natural in the long-term if you combine these stretches.

Yoga stretches are more suitable for flexible people because they require a little effort and attention.





1. UP AND DOWN SHOULDER STRETCH

A girl practicing up-and-down shoulder stretches with indications and intestines view.

These types of stretches to relieve constipation use the shoulders and the hands to contract the upper abdomen. The abdominal contraction will make the intestines push the stool towards the rectum.

Doctors recommend these stretches for shoulder recovery, for preventing shoulder injuries, and people who stay all day at a desk or computer.

The purpose of these types is to contract and expand the intestines using the upper abdomen.


How to do up and down shoulder stretches?

  • Stand on your feet straight.
  • Raise your palms near the mouth.
  • Keep the hands in the air.
  • Raise your right hand.
  • Now lower it down.
  • Do the same thing with your left arm.

Practice this exercise slowly and gently. Start with ten moves on each hand. Repeat this exercise 3-4 times.

Do not sit on a chair or the couch because the intestines will stay compact. Ideally, you will want to contract and expand the intestines that are freely tied.

The slow practice has better results because the movements of the muscles should be gentle. There is no point to rush doing any exercise to relieve constipation, especially if you are warming up.


Benefits of shoulder stretches

They are easy to do, and they create pressure inside the intestines from the abdomen towards the rectum.

They prevent shoulder soreness and wrist injuries. Also, they help the wrist strength, especially if you drive all day or you stay all day at a computer.

Anyone can practice them using different hand directions. Lateral movements of the shoulder will strengthen the shoulder even more. And it will contract the abdomen better.


What do the experts say?

According to an article called Innovation & Technology in Gastroenterology, published by The American College of Gastroenterology: Patients can use arm vibrations in sessions to improve constipation by obtaining a higher rate of complete bowel movements.

According to a guide called Physical Activity Goals, published by the same health authority: Stretching (light stretching of the neck, arms, shoulders, back, hips, and legs) prevents injuries when you increase the activity level.

According to a guide called Four Types of Exercise Can Improve Your Health, published by The U.S. National Institute of Aging: Stretching improves flexibility (back, inner thigh, ankle, back of the leg). It is essential to stretch when you warmed up or after endurance exercises. [back to top]



2. CLOCKWISE HIP STRETCH

A girl practicing round hip clockwise stretches with indications and the impact on the lower abdomen.

These types of stretches to relieve constipation are excellent for everyone because they are simple to do. Also, they require little effort.

The purpose of practicing these stretches is to improve bowel movement by contracting the lower abdomen and the pelvic floor.

Both clockwise and counter-clockwise have the same effect. For better results start slowly, and gently because too much pressure can create a stiff feeling.


How to do clockwise hip stretches?

Place yourself near a door frame or stair support. You must be able to have stability:

  • Stay straight.
  • Move your right leg lateral.
  • Keep the ankle straight.
  • Keep the leg straight.
  • Move your leg in circles slowly.

Keep the body and feet as straight as possible. Stretch the legs as far as possible. Practice this exercise for each leg ten times, clockwise, and counter-clockwise slowly.

To relieve constipation fast with exercise, you can do sit-ups or deep squats. Do not hurry when practicing these stretches because results will not come quickly. Take your time and takes pauses when necessary.


Benefits of round hip stretches

Contracting and expanding the pelvic floor muscles is necessary for smooth defecation. Also, the more often you move, the better the rectum will react to stool moving for evacuation.

Moving the hips and the legs in circles is an excellent way to recover the hips and to prevent future injuries.

Doctors recommend this type of exercise, especially for people who sit all day in a chair or drive many hours a day. Moving the legs in circles will strengthen the wrists and will prevent soreness.


What do the experts say?

According to a study about static stretching and hip flexion in athletes, published by The U.S. National Institutes of Health: The effect of rest between stretches makes stretching efficient. This thing allows recovery of the nervous, muscular, and metabolic systems. It also improves the ability of the muscles to extend against a pulling load.

According to a guide called Diabetes Diet, Eating & Physical Activity, published by The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: We can consider stretches as moderate physical activity. Stretches increase flexibility, lowers stress, and prevents muscle soreness.

According to a study about physical activity, defecation, and constipation, published by The U.S. National Library of Medicine: Doctors recommend physical activity to middle-aged-inactive patients with constipation. PA improves the defecation pattern (and rectosigmoid colonic transit time). [back to top]



3. DEEP SQUAT

A girl doing deep squat hip stretches with indications, and one of the results is increasing the anorectal angle for stool evacuation.

Deep squat stretches are the best stretches for constipation relief because they increase the anorectal angle and create a clear path for the stool to move towards evacuation.

These things are the key to stimulate bowel movement and having smooth defecation both in the short and long-term.

Squatting and Semi-Squatting are excellent postures to use when going to the bathroom. It makes pooping feel natural and does not create tension that has negative side-effect like hemorrhoids.


How to squat and stretch the hips?

Position yourself straight on your feet. Let some space between your heels and knees to keep stability further. Now follow the steps:

  • Lower your body slowly and keep straight.
  • Keep the knees higher than the hips.
  • Place your elbows on your knees.
  • Keep your arms between your legs.

Now stay in this position and move your elbows lateral to extend the hips. Move your elbows slowly and keep your elbows and hips blocked.

Stay in this position for 10-30 seconds and take a pause.

Repeat this exercise for 1-5 series slowly and gently. The purpose is to create space between your legs and to keep the knees higher than the hips.

In this way, the anorectal angle will increase, and the kink at the entrance of the rectum will open. This thing will create a clear path for the stool to move downwards.


Benefits of deep squats

  • They increase the anorectal angle.
  • They make defecation feel natural.
  • They put to work the pelvic floor muscles.

But practicing this posture often, the body will create the right amount of pressure inside so the stool will evacuate will less effort.

Also, hip stretches are an excellent way to prevent wrist damage and pelvic floor muscle soreness. Doctors recommend this type of stretch for hip recovery.


What do the experts say?

According to a guide about constipation and defecation problems published by The American College of Gastroenterology: Biofeedback therapy, physical activity, and muscle retrain exercises can treat pelvic floor coordination problems. The same thing applies to anorectal muscles.

As stated by a research post about stretching, published by The US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: It is essential to stretch correctly and gently. Try to include stretching into your daily routine. [back to top]



4. SUPINE TWIST

A girl is sitting with her back on a fitness mat, practicing the supine twist and stretching the hips and the pelvic floor muscles with indications.

The supine twist stretch is a well-liked yoga pose. People use it to stimulate the bowel, stress relief, and joint movements. Also, it puts the blood flow to work, and it moves the stool inside the intestines.

The best thing about this stretch to relieve constipation is that it gives us the possibility to stretch the hips, similar to squatting.


How to use the supine twist for constipation relief?

Lie on your back on the floor with your body straight. Keep your head and shoulders straight, and look towards the ceiling.

Now do the following:

  • Bring your knees to your chest slowly.
  • Move your right leg back straight.
  • Move the left leg to the right side.
  • Keep your head and body straight.

Stay in this posture for 1-5 seconds and repeat it with the other leg.

When you feel the hips and thigh stretching a bit, it is an excellent signal that you are doing it right. Do not stretch too hard from the beginning, especially if you are not that flexible.


Benefits of the Supine twist stretch

This type is easy to practice, and it does not require lots of effort. The only thing you need is a fitness/yoga mattress. Also, it is an excellent exercise for hip recovery and preventing injuries.

The wind-relieving pose is almost identical to this pose because it requires both the legs to stay close near the chest. So, you can practice them both at the same time.

The more you keep the knees near the chest, the more obtuse the anorectal-angle will become. In this way, stool evacuation will become smooth with less straining of the rectum.


What do the experts say?

As stated by a study about constipation, IBS, and Yoga, published by The US National Institutes of Health: Summary of remedial yoga module for IBS – supine position, both legs (straight leg raise breathing).

According to the same health study: For better results, it is enough to practice exercises like breathing, abdomen-stretching, and twisting postures (includes rest). [back to top]



5. CRESCENT TWIST

A girl is doing the crescent twist yoga pose and stretching the legs, hips, and lower abdomen with indications.

This type of yoga stretches for constipation relief will create pressure inside the intestines. Also, they contract the abdomen and the pelvic floor muscles.

The crescent twist pose requires lots of effort, especially on the knees and heels. It is more suitable for people who are in good physical shape and are flexible.


How to use the crescent twist to relieve constipation?

Stay on the floor straight and move your right foot in front slowly. Extend the left leg and hip to the back as much as possible. The right knee and the ankle should be perpendicular to the floor.

Now do the following:

  • Stick your hands in front of your chest.
  • Turn your whole body to the left.
  • Keep your right elbows on your right knee.
  • Hold your body like this for 1-5 seconds.

Stretch the hips and lower abdomen slowly and gently. Repeat the stretch on the left side of your body and the other leg.


The Crescent twist benefits the body also.

It improves blood flow, and it moves the stool to the large intestine and the rectum.

Also, it is an excellent exercise for people who want to prevent muscle soreness and wrist injuries.

Because this exercise is challenging, it will put to work the abdominal, shoulder, leg, and hip muscles at the same time. The Crescent twist is a useful and practical workout if you want to improve your stamina.


What do the experts say?

As stated by a study about high-intensity yoga and fitness, published by The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: High-intensity yoga postures are excellent with 30-40 min of classical Surya namaskar and 15 min of other poses.

According to a study about spastic cerebral palsy and stretching exercises published by NCBI: Stretching exercises can improve symptoms (for the management of spasticity in CP). [back to top]



6. COBRA STRETCH

A girl sitting on a fitness mat is doing cobra stretches with indications and variations of the yoga posture.

This type of stretch for constipation relief does not require any twist. It requires little effort, and it is excellent for the abdomen workout.

Also, the cobra pose is a well-known lar yoga pose practiced by many people all around the world. Imitating the cobra defense posture will stretch the lower part of the abdomen and the thighs.


How to practice the Cobra Stretch to improve bowel movement?

Place yourself on the fitness mat with the front of your body towards the floor.

Keep the legs and knees glued to the mat:

  • Lie on the abdomen with the legs straight.
  • Place your palms on the mat.
  • Slowly raise your head towards the ceiling.
  • Lift the chest slowly.
  • Press the palms into the floor.
  • Keep your upper body vertical.

Hold this posture for 1-5 seconds. You can try 10-30 seconds if you are flexible enough.

Finish by placing your body on the floor again.

It is essential to keep your body straight and perpendicular to the floor. In this way, the abdominal muscles will contract, and the intestines will expand.

According to a study about Yoga as a Remedial Therapy in IBS, published by The US National Institutes of Health: Yoga postures that focus on the lower abdomen can relieve IBS symptoms by enhancing bioenergy circulation (in and around the intestines). [back to top]



OTHER STRETCHES

There are three more stretches to relieve constipation that are yoga-related:

  • bow stretch
  • matsyasana twist
  • half spinal stretch

The bow pose stretches the abdominal muscles because it requires you to bend your knees behind while you position the front of your body on the floor.

In this way, you will be able to stretch your body to the maximum and contract all the muscles while trying to keep your body straight.

The half spinal twist is similar to the supine twist stretch. The main thing is to take deep breaths while stretching the hips and the lower abdomen. [back to top]



KEEP IN MIND

While the yoga stretches are more suitable for very flexible people, the ones like shoulder and hip types are suitable for everyone.

If you have problems with your hips, wrists, and joints, you should ask a doctor before doing any stretches at all.

According to Treatment for Constipation, published by The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Regular physical activity helps relieve constipation.

According to a health guide about physical activity in adults, published by the same health authority: Modest amounts of physical activity is beneficial to your health and digestion. This thing doesn’t mean that you have to be an athlete. [back to top]



SUMMARY

Learning and practicing stretches to relieve constipation regularly is the key to improve stool evacuation and bowel movement in the long-term.

The first three stretches mentioned in this guide are suitable for the majority of people: shoulder stretch, clockwise hip stretch, or deep squat stretch.

Some yoga stretches require a little effort: supine twist, crescent twist, the bow stretch, or the wind relieving pose. [back to top]



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About the author

My name is Sebastian D., and I am the senior editor of constipationguide.com. With the help of my mentor, Dr. Horia Marculescu, I decided to create a practical guide to constipation relief.. read more



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