How to Poop on Holidays

How to Poop on Holidays
Photo: fongbeerredhot, Shutterstock

Ah, holidays. A time for adventure, relaxation, poolside cocktails, and…constipation? For a lot of people, yes. Due to changes in diet, routine, sleep, and dehydration from air travel and all that celebratory booze, many people get backed up, rendering their tummy bloated, their bowels immobile and their mood not so great. (It’s hard to reach peak happiness when you haven’t dropped a deuce in three days.)

While we’ve written before about small tweaks in your travelling diet and lifestyle that can help clean out the pipes, here we’ll share three techniques suggested by a pelvic health physical therapist assistant, Oriana Barger who teaches people how to poop for a living.

The scooping method

In a TikTok video that’s reached 7 million people, Barger demonstrated three techniques to alleviate constipation. The first: Lay on your back with your knees up, find your hip bones and “scoop that tissue up.” (Oriana is referring to the delightful skin between your hip bones, aka your gut, or FUPA — my words, not hers.)

She then coaches to “find a solid spot” and hold this skin up while taking three deep breaths, allowing your belly to expand fully with each inhale. Barger told Buzzfeed this gentle pulling of the lower abdominal tissue, “helps to stretch the front of the pelvic diaphragm. When we elongate that tissue and release it, we allow blood flow to come in while potentially releasing any tissue restrictions that may be blocking proper function and motility, aka freeing up space for the intestines.”

The ILU massage method

The “ILU” method (so named for the letters you form with your hands while performing it) uses one’s hands to follow the path of the large intestine, increasing the movement of food. In this technique, Barger advises to start the massage at the right hip bone and move your hand straight up, across the top of your stomach, and straight down the left side to your hip bone. The website COVID Physical Therapy describes the technique in more detail:

Using both hands, stroke with moderate pressure from under the left rib cage down to the front of the left hip bone. (This forms the letter “I.”) Do this 10 times.

Next, form the letter “L” by stroking with moderate pressure from the right ribcage, underneath the ribcage towards the left, and down to the left hipbone.Do this 10 times.

Now we will make the letter “U” with 10 strokes from the front of the right hip (cecum) to the right ribcage, across to the left ribcage, and down to the left hip bone.

“The ILU massage works similar to the scooping method in that it softens up any tissue restrictions in the abdomen along the path of the colon,” Barger said. “It also stimulates blood flow to the colon, which promotes mechanical motility, [meaning] it gets your colon moving.”

The belly compression method

The last method uses your knees to “massage” or compress your stomach. Lying on your back, pull your knees in, so that they compress your belly. While hugging your knees, rock them side to side, making a circular motion so different sides of your stomach are alternately compressed and stretched. “Pulling the knees in allows for compression on one point, and stretching on the other, a double whammy to encourage a trip to the bathroom,” Barger says.

Not coincidentally, this is the same method savvy parents use to help their babies let trapped toots fly, and get a few good laughs in the process.

Barger recommends seeking professional help if you don’t poop at least once every three days, or you don’t “eliminate completely.”

Log in to comment on this story!