(Why is it that I Often need to Go to the Bathroom While Swimming?)
Notice what happens next time you go to the bathroom for a number two (rhymes with poo.) Notice your abs tensing and a downwards pressing feeling. Each time you push, does your lower back feel like it is being pulled forwards?
The supposed ideal position for doing a number two is to squat. I’d modify and say that “Make sure any articles of clothing are clear of the drop zone.”
I’d also modify that further to say “Make sure that you exit orifice is directly over whatever receptacle you are using whether a hole or a porcelain “squatter.”” (I once had the pleasure of observing a miss placed “exit article” half on and half off the edge of porcelain. I got a distinct impression of texture which I unfortunately carried back with me to the dinner table. (The impression, not the item. I was at an Italian restaurant in Taiwan at the time.))
Anyway, with those basic guidelines out of the way, in a squat the front of the hips are closed, so that the knees are close to the chest. We can simulate this while on the bowl by slightly pressing down into our feet and leaning forwards so that our buttock are no longer in contact with the seat or just touching it.
Feeling the Psoas
One muscle of main importance in this position, and especially while taking a dump is the psoas. Within the belly cavity, its fibers reach forwards and down from the front of the lumbar spine to the front of the pelvis.
Some of its fibers may partially support the rectum. If not directly then via connective tissue which acts or looks like a downwards sloping hammock for the rectum. When contracted, the psoas may help to till the rectum forwards helping to put it in the ideal position for offloading our payload.
(Bombadier to pilot, bomb bay doors open, bomb positioning mechanism in place.
Pilot to bombardier. Roger that.)
Because the psoas can be used to pull the lumbar spine forwards actually causing it to bend backwards, we can counter this tendency, or the body naturally counters this tendency, by engaging the abs. See if you can notice this for yourself. Each time you push, do your abs engage? Does your lower back feel like it is being pulled forwards?
If you can feel your lower back being pulled forwards as if from inside your body, that just may be your psoas activating.
The Diaphragm (The One we Breathe With)
One other sensation to look for, and another key player is the diaphragm. (Sensation is generated when it activates and presses downwards.)
Positioning bombs ready for release is fine but we need some sort of release mechanism. With bombs in an airplane we simply leg go, however if you’ve seen a b52’s bomb bay doors, those doors are huge. Generally the opening for our own bombs is a little smaller. So we have to push.
Push It Out, Push it Out…. Way Out
Where does the push come from? Well, our abs are already engaged. In doing so they help to squeeze inwards on the abdominal organs. Further push pressure can come from the diaphragm pressing down.
Women use this when giving birth and women and men can use it when pushing out a number two. This is our release mechanism. Next time your squatting, or sitting, see if you can feel a downwards push and better yet notice where it is coming from.
Now one of the cool things about all of this is that most of the same components are used when we breath, or can be used with breathing. Basically our abs and diaphragm can be used as pumps. In the case of air they can be used to create a vacuum to draw air in, and then used to push air out. In the case of a number two they are solely used as a push pump to push stuff out.
When breathing we can use our diaphragm, pushing it down to increase the volume of our lungs to draw air in. This action pushes down on the abdominal organs which cause the belly to protrude. Then we can use the abs to push these organs in and the diaphragm up to reduce lung volume and push air out.
Together we can simultaneously use the abs and diaphragm to squeeze the abdominal organs, which means we squeeze our intestines, and rectum and guess what comes out!
If we more finally tune our ab control, we can pull just our lower belly in so that our upper belly expands. If our abs are relaxed just enough then when our diaphragm contracts it can push the ribcage upwards. If in addition we expand the ribs we’ve got extra power for drawing more air in.
I Practice My Kegel Exercises Every Day!!!
(I’m even practicing them now)
So what was the point of talking about taking a dump?
A while back some guy name Dr Arnold Kegel became famous because he taught women how to orgasm by doing simple exercises that helped them tune in to their pelvic floor so that they could contract, relax and orgasm at will.
He taught them how to learn both sensitivity and control.
One description that is commonly used-“Use the same muscle that you use to control the flow of pee.”
In a similar way, we can use “number two” time to feel our diaphragm, abs and psoas or to practice feeling them, or at least to practice putting our awareness in the right place so that we can get used to feeling them.
This sensitivity can be used to improve body control both on and off the pot.
As an example, on the pot if you are having trouble squeezing stuff out, you might focus on a downwards sensation in the lower belly. Focus on the feeling rather than thinking about the feeling. You may notice actually movement as a result.
An analogy could be that the bombay doors are stuck so the copilot has to go back and unwind them manually. Likewise, if your bomb bay is jammed up, put your awareness down there to help get things flowing.
(Bombs away. Roger that, returning to base.) (Credits roll with a picture of an airmen coming out of the commode, toilet paper trailing out his pants.)
Noticing the sensations of our diaphragm, psoas and abs engaging while on the pot, off the pot we can continue to feel and control these muscles while breathing, doing yoga or tai ji or while having sex… or while doing anything else that involves the body.
The Connection to Swimming…
So why do I sometimes want to take a dump when doing lots of swimming or underwater swimming? And why did I bother mentioning it? I actually did think it was interesting at the time. Two days in a row, when I went swimming, while I was swimming, I felt the urge to go to the bathroom. I put it down to the action of my legs and hips helping to loosen my bowels. And that may in turn have been part of the inspiration for this article.