Smutty Fitness: Constipation
I am going to talk about something that Lainey likes to bring up all the time but has never been talked about here on Smutty Fitness. Poop.
As a runner and a cyclist, I understand that what is happening down there is very important and diet can play a major role in how a long training day or race unfolds. How our digestive system is behaving can be just as important as how comfortable our shoes are or how our pants are fitting. There are many issues to address, including over and underactive bowels, and I will hit them all over time but I am going to start with underactive bowels today, as that is what I just spent over a week dealing with.
Constipation is probably one of the most uncomfortable feelings and last week I was lying on my stomach, my left side, my right side, on all fours with my bum up in the air, self massaging my stomach, rolling on a foam roller, taking natural laxatives and herbal teas, stuffing myself full of fibre, drinking loads of water, eating bags and bags of prunes, letting my belly hang out like I was pregnant and spending hours in the bathroom just hoping for something to move. I eventually realized that I was not dehydrated, nor was I lacking fibre but rather my hips and pelvic floor were so tight from spending 9 hours on a plane and then 9 hours on my mountain and road bike, that there was no room for anything to move inside.
If you are constipated, and it is not a chronic issue that requires a doctor’s attention, there are a few things that you can adjust in your training and your diet to help alleviate your discomfort. First thing is you must relax. It is amazing how stress can affect your body and your digestive system, especially if you suffer from IBS. If you are stressed about an upcoming workout or race or there is something in your life that is causing you stress or anxiety stay away from laxatives as your issues are deeper. Try yoga, meditation, deep breathing or doing whatever you need to do to relax, which for me usually is a long hike in the mountains. Also, stay away from anything that is going to make your stress worse, like coffee, sugar and alcohol and drink plenty of water.
Second, if you are feeling overly tight in your hips and pelvis take a moment to stretch. You may even want to stop into a massage therapist or chiropractor to help relax what can be causing things to get stuck. Too much tension from your muscles in that region can actually push things up!
Third, take a look at your hydration and see if there is something that needs altering. Are you drinking too much coffee and not enough water? Yes coffee can stimulate the bowels but it can also be counterintuitive and dehydrate you. Combining too much coffee with not enough water and lots of sweating in your workout creates the perfect storm to cause a back up. Cut back on the coffee, drink peppermint tea, increase your water intake and if you do not suffer from high blood pressure or have cholesterol issues add some salt into your diet which will help your body absorb more water.
Last, check your diet. Are you getting enough fibre? As endurance athletes sometimes we are forced to stay away from fibre and stick to the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast) but in some cases we may not be getting enough. Add roughage like cabbage, kale, apples (with the skin) and beans and stay from too many foods that will bind you up, such as wheat if you are gluten intolerant or suffer from IBS.
If this issue does not resolve itself within a few days or you are experiencing other symptoms, such as pelvic pain or blood in your stool, make sure to get into your doctor to see if it may be something more serious.
I am happy to say that my body sorted itself out today! (Lainey: well good for you. I haven’t had a good sh-t since Sunday and cough syrup isn’t helping.)
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