Improving your hip mobility can fix your constipation?!
What sorcery is this?
What would be your first reaction if I told you that working on your hip mobility could help fix your constipation?
Surprise? Disbelief? Mistrust?
I am not kidding about it AT ALL, and I promise there is no voodoo involved in this relationship!
“Everything in a human body is connected” is a phrase we have heard often from our healthcare providers. We often remind ourselves of it too, as we try to make sense of the pain that travels from one region to another. But oddly enough, we seldom pay attention to other bodily functions that run on auto-pilot or wonder how they get affected by other systems of the body. Take digestion as an example. We often assume that as long as we eat healthy, it will work smoothly. But, while it is super-important to control what we ingest, there is a lot more to good digestion than just food intake.
Now, getting down to brass tacks— let’s see how our hip and gut go hand-in-hand.
1. Impacting the Pelvic Floor:
Let’s start with the most obvious relationship. The Rectum, which is the end of the GI tract, ends in the pelvic region, where it is well-supported by the pelvic floor. In fact, the muscle Puborectalis creates a kind of sling around the rectum to keep it closed, thus preventing leakage!! The pelvic floor is essentially a group of muscles located inside the pelvis and connected to the hip muscles on either side. In fact, two of the hip muscles, the Obturator internus, and Piriformis, link directly to the pelvic floor. A lack of mobility in the hip, tightness in hip muscles, or poor stability, can create tension or overactivity in the pelvic floor muscles. And if you remember, we need a pelvic floor that is able to expand and relax well to have good bowel movements. Tightness in the pelvic floor can give rise to puborectalis dyssynergia (outlet obstruction), which can cause difficulty in voiding, the need for excessive strain, ribbon-like bowel movement, and eventually constipation.
2. Impacting the Cecum and the Sigmoid Colon:
As we know, the colon or large intestine begins at the cecum and ends in the rectum. It is responsible for propelling feces along the colonic plumbing with the help of the smooth muscular contractions happening on the inside of the colonic tube. This smooth muscle contraction is what is called the peristaltic movement. Although the smooth muscles are pretty independent and mostly function under the influence of the autonomic nervous system, the skeletal muscles present around the gut also have the ability to influence this motility through fascial connections.
Two such connections exist, one on each side of the pelvis: one on the right side of it, between the cecum and the hip muscle Iliacus, and another on the left side, between the sigmoid and the Iliacus. The movement of the hip towards the body, referred to as hip flexion, not only creates movement on the right side of the pelvis, but the resulting contraction of the Iliacus directly stimulates the cecum as well, both aiding the peristalsis.
3. Impacting the Ascending and Descending Colons:
Another important hip muscle, the Psoas Major, originates from the front part of the T12 to L5 spinal vertebrae in the abdomen, passing behind the ascending colon on the right side and the descending colon on the left before connecting to the femur (the hip bone). Psoas influences the peristalsis in the ascending and descending colon the same way as Iliacus does through muscular contractions and hip movement.
4. Impacting the diaphragm:
It is no mystery that the diaphragm plays an important role in stimulating gut motility by directly influencing the GI organs as it moves up and down with each breath. The Psoas is also fascially connected to the diaphragm and influences the dynamics of respiratory function, thus contributing indirectly to gut motility.
Still not convinced? Did you know that some people experience fecal urgency during a run — most likely due to an excessive movement of the cecum/ascending Colon in relation to the rhythmically contracting and lengthening Psoas Major muscle?!
So, if this muscle is capable of giving some people Runner’s Trots, why not use this capability to your advantage and cure your constipation?
So what are you waiting for? Get those hips moving!
Marco A. Siccardi; Muhammad Ali Tariq; Cristina ValleAnatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb, Psoas Major. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535418/
Scott Mawer; Ali F. Alhawaj.Physiology,Defecation.