My first question in the course of an Ayurveda consult is – when do you poop? Next is how does it look and do you feel satisfied after? Poop is my favourite line of questioning and I have been taught it’s the most important one. Almost everything begins from the gut / digestive system/stomach. Gut and emotions are the story of chicken and egg, what came first one might never know. Whether a person’s anxiety caused stomach issues or stomach ailments caused anxiety is a vicious circle of questions.
In the similar circle of intricate linkages is the story of back ache and constipation. Let’s first define constipation because majority of people who are suffering from it don’t even know it.
Any of these symptoms would constitute mild to severe constipation
- Hard stools on a daily basis which are difficult to pass or need exerting pressure.
- Need for a stimulant always to pass stools and inability to do so without it.
- Inability to pass stools on a daily basis
- Not experiencing evacuation feeling after passing stools
- Inability to pass stools during the day and the advent of pressure only towards evening or end of the day.
Next comes the curious case of backaches and its various kinds. Dull ache, tail end ache, sharp pain, spreading ache, pain arising from the tailbone and spreading towards the hips and going down towards the legs. Anyone who suffers from daily dull aches in the lower back, experiences stiffness after waking up, feels general exhaustion in the back after a busy day could be easily connected to pre-existing constipation issues.
Structurally abdominal and back muscles are intertwined like interlocked fingers of both hands. Weakening of one will stress the other one. Strengthening one will result in positive effect on the other. Most of the core or back workouts involve working on both simultaneously.
Constipation could be the cause or effect of weak abdominal muscles. If you continuously suffer from backache, first pay attention to your bowel movements. Take first efforts to keep them regular and next to ensure that you have clear bowels. Warm water, enough water, adding fibre to your diet, herbs like triphala can aid in this. External oil massage of the body with sesame oil will aid in backache as well as increasing blood circulation for digestion.
How can constipation cause backache?
When stools become hard and dry, pushing them out especially in western style commodes exerts a lot of pressure on lower back. Also there could be faecal impaction which is uncleared faeces in the colon , which stay there for a long time, creating load on the colon and lower back muscles.
Few recommendations to soften stools, reduce constipation and backaches are: –
- Apply mustard oil on the anus and surrounding area and massage for 3-5 mins at bedtime. It might sting a bit but will aid stool softening for easier evacuation
- Half tsp triphala with warm water can get things going in the morning but should be taken for a limited period of time.
- Having a cup of warm water with honey at bedtime or in the morning can aid easier bowel movement.
- Sitting in malasana (Indian squat) while sipping on warm water in the morning will aid bowel movement but avoid this if the backache doesn’t allow you to sit like this.
- Massaging lower back and lower abdomen with sesame oil at bedtime or in the morning will ease the muscles around these tense areas, offering relief in pain and discomfort.
- For those who can have and digest milk, have a cup of milk boiled with ginger and mishri (rock candy) at night. Adding a tsp of cow ghee shall also reduce constipation.
- Nothing can beat physical movement to address both issues together in the form of yoga, pilates, walks or whichever form you prefer.
- Early dinner (before 8 pm) is another cure all aid for these issues.
Wishing you all pain free days and happy poop mornings because happy poop is the secret of everyone’s good health whether it be physical or emotional.