Five Ways to Boost Your Intestinal Motility

Straining on the toilet is not only painful, but it can potentially be unhealthy over time. Consistently straining to pass a bowel movement might elicit other complications along with the chronic constipation. You can give yourself hemorrhoids or worse -- especially if you have any medical reason not to strain such as partially detached retinas or any cardiac diagnoses.

There are simple ways to increase your intestinal motility, or the rate at which undigested nutrients and then stool pass through your intestines.

However, if you are chronically straining or having difficulties on the toilet, then you should probably schedule a visit with your primary doctor. He or she might be able to evaluate potential causes of bowel irregularity, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS for short.

If there is an underlying illness or intestinal dysfunction it should always be addressed by your physician prior to attempting any home remedies. In the meantime, there are five things that can help boost your intestinal motility and make your toilet time less painful.


Yes, I said it. Getting active seems to be the catchall answer for many different medical complaints, but there is a scientific rationale behind it. When you exercise routinely, you are improving the circulation to all parts of your body, including your intestines. Healthier blood supply to your intestines means that you should be able to digest and move food and fluids through more efficiently.


What you eat can impact how well your bowels work. Most people have suffered the occasional bout of constipation and can sometimes trace it back to a specific food, such as indulging in too much cheese or other foods known to bind you up. Certain spices, such as peppermint or ginger, can be added to your culinary creations to boost intestinal motility.

 Last but never least, plain old yogurt has good bacteria that help your bowels stay regulated and moving.

Your fluid intake is an important part of your diet as well. If you don't come close to the six to eight, eight ounce glasses of water encouraged daily, then you might be chronically dehydrated. Dehydration slows everything down in your digestive tract and can be a very simple -- and very treatable -- cause of constipation and motility problems.


Sometimes a gentle belly rub can help stimulate the intestines. Imagine your abdomen as a clock with it's face pointing outward. You can massage "around the clock" in a counter clockwise or clockwise pattern. Avoid deep pressure and stick to a gentle, light touch with your fingertips. Some people also like to use warm compresses or pads to increase circulation and decrease any discomfort caused by constipation. Moist, warm -- not hot -- compresses can be used to help relieve the cramping muscle pains as well.

Changing Position on the Toilet?

Here in North America we make a lot of jokes referring to our toilets as the throne, but that is not how everyone toilets.

Many modern countries do not sit on a Western toilet to move their bowels, and research on the proper pooping position has begun. Some advocates for intestinal motility claim that we should be squatting, not sitting, when we move our bowels. The theory behind the proper position claims that when you squat and lean slightly forward you actually put less pressure on the muscles that help evacuate your bowels and passing stool becomes easier.

Medications and Supplements

If your doctor clears you of motility disorders but you are still having bowel problems he or she may order prescription medications to help speed things up in your bowels. One such medication, Reglan (metoclopramide), can help boost your intestinal motility. Likewise, Linzess (linaclotide), is a medication sometimes prescribed to help relieve the symptoms of IBS and can also increase the frequency of your bowel movements. Any medication -- even over the counter constipation relief -- can cause side effects and should be discussed with your care provider.


International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. (n.d.). Motility Disorders. Accessed online September 26, 2014.

Jaboli, M.F., et al. (2011). Prospective Comparison of Different Gastric Motility Tests in Dyspeptic Patients. Gut; 60. Boston Medical Journal. Accessed online September 27, 2014.

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