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April 5th, 2020

How does posture affect continence?

Introduction

Posture is the way you hold your body. So, how you move around, stand, sit or lie down. This article differentiates between posture in general and while using the toilet.

Posture in general:

There is a layer of muscles that fill the bottom of the pelvic floor. These muscles act like a sling to support your bladder, bowel and other internal organs. Good posture strengthens these muscles thereby improving bladder and bowel control.

Sitting in a slumped position, especially for long periods of time or on a regular basis, can increase pressure on the tailbone and can cause tightness and pain in the pelvis. This can also contribute to incomplete emptying of the bladder and/or bowel.

Prolonged sitting or standing too upright isn’t good either, as it may result in heightened pressure on the pelvic floor muscles which also leads to tightness and discomfort.

Tips for improving posture for better continence, especially during prolonged inactivity:

  • If you have to sit for long periods of time, sit comfortably upright but not too erect.
  • Ensure that your feet are supported on the ground or a foot stool.
  • Avoid sitting on furniture without a backrest for too long.
  • Prefer padded and cushioned surfaces to reduce the physical stress on your bones.
  • Get up regularly and take short breaks from sitting in the same position.

Posture while using the toilet:

Good posture is also important when going to the toilet as this allows the pelvis to align correctly resulting in a higher chance of completely emptying the bladder and bowel -. Researchers have shown that squatting is the best position for using the toilet, but for most of us in Australia, this is not comfortable.

Tips for improving toilet posture for better continence:

  • Sit with your knees higher than your hips by using a footstool, if necessary.
  • Lean forward and place your elbows on your knees.
  • Keep your back and spine straight.
  • Relax and bulge your stomach, using deep breaths to increase the pressure in your abdomen.
  • Do not spend more time on the toilet than is necessary. 

We hope that you find this newsletter helpful.

This information is intended to be general in nature. Please consult your medical practitioner for specific advice related to any medical concerns you may have.