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Pelvic Wellness Program

 

Pelvic Floor Exercises for Bowel Control

Exercises using both the external anal sphincter and the deep pelvic floor muscles can help you to improve your bowel control. When done correctly, these exercises can tone and strengthen the muscles to help you hold back gas and prevent fecal incontinence (leakage of stool). Exercise programs take time; you may not see any noticeable change in your bowel control immediately.  In some cases it may take several months to regain control.

Bowel Control Muscles
The anus and the anal canal have rings of muscle around them. The outer ring of muscle is called the external anal sphincter; it is a voluntary muscle which you can learn to tighten and close more efficiently. When you contract it you will feel the skin around your anus tighten and pull in as if the anus is winking. Try to keep the buttocks muscles relaxed.

The inner ring around the anus is the internal anal sphincter. It is an involuntary and automatic muscle; you don't have to think to keep it closed or open.  This muscle should be closed at all times, except when you are actually trying to have a bowel movement.

In addition to the sphincter muscles, there are deeper muscles called the levator ani that form a sling from your tailbone to your pubic bone. The levator ani muscle has a specific part called the puborectalis that holds stool in until you give the signal to relax and empty.  When you contract these muscles it creates a feeling of lifting the anus inward. 

External Anal Sphincter                                                                 Levator ani deep layer

 

                                              

 

 

Effective Exercises for Control of Gas and Bowels

  • Identify the specific areas of the pelvic floor muscles you need to use.  This can be done using a mirror to see if you are contracting the correct muscles or by placing the pad of your finger at or just inside the anal opening.

  • Develop an exercise plan for strength, endurance and quick response of the muscles and stick with it.  You must make the muscles do more than they are used to doing.

  • Incorporate the exercises into your daily activities.