As many of you know, I am very nerdy–in a great way, I believe. And this nerdiness especially comes out when you take a look at my leisure reading material. Recently, I began reading a new book that came to me in a package of promotional materials from the awesome website, Potty MD. Potty MD offers excellent products and books–including my reading of choice, Overcoming Bladder & Bowel Problems in Children by Dr. D. Preston Smith. This $8 book is a jewel and is full of great recommendations–including an appendix full of kid-friendly fiber recipes! I have loved reading it, and I especially loved his idea of practicing “Potty Yoga.”
Now, for those of you who have done yoga in the past, I’m sure you are wondering how the two words “Potty” and “Yoga” can possibly be paired together. But actually, I think the ideas work very well and that both children and adults can truly benefit from the idea of “Potty Yoga.”
Spending time on the toilet is something both children and adults often tend to avoid. We feed into this mindset for ourselves, even referring to bathroom stops as “Pit Stops” comparing our urination to that of a racecar stopping mid-course. The unfortunate side effect of this is that many adults develop poor voiding patterns with bad habits and our children develop frequent urinary tract infections and experience accidents.
Normal emptying of the bladder occurs with a coordinated relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles and a contraction of the detrusor muscle of the bladder to empty urine. This actually involves very little work on our part. Our job is simply to breathe and relax and allow our bladder to empty itself. When we try to speed up this process by pushing or straining, we often negatively impact the bladders function and can develop dysfunctional voiding patterns, difficulty emptying our bladder and pelvic floor muscle incoordination.
For children, dysfunctional voiding patterns often develop from chronically trying to hold urine for longer periods of time. Often times children become involved in playing and do not wish to stop their activities to use the potty. Abnormal habits can often make it more difficult to start a urine stream, which can cause a child to become frustrated and cause unnecessary straining/pushing to empty. Often children are also thinking of other things on the toilet which worsens the difficulty in emptying.
Parents can feed into this process without meaning to by urging the child to “hurry up” or distracting the child by games/playing on the toilet. This unfortunately only makes it more difficult for the child to relax his/her muscles to properly allow the bladder to empty.
Instead, both adults and children should practice, “Potty Yoga.” Yoga focuses on mindfulness, allowing the mind to stay on task, breathing and allowing the body to fully relax. Children and adults should use proper posturing on the toilet as well to allow muscles to fully relax, and should spend 2-3 minutes uninterrupted in order to get positive results. Dr. Smith encourages children to sit in a relaxed position, quiet and comfortable, with eyes closed and slow breathing to avoid being distracted and to allow focus to stay on the bladder.
This same habit should be used for bowel movements to allow muscles to relax and improve ability to empty. So, take a deep breath and get into the habit of practicing potty yoga. The results for your body could be wonderful.
Written by Jessica Powley Reale, PT, DPT, WCS