What Are The Best Exercises For Bowel Incontinence?

Bowel incontinence, often an uncomfortable and embarrassing condition, affects millions of individuals worldwide. While it can be caused by various factors including weakened pelvic floor muscles, nerve damage, childbirth, or certain medical conditions, finding effective ways to manage it is crucial for maintaining a good quality of life.

Alongside medical treatments and lifestyle adjustments, incorporating specific exercises into your routine can significantly help manage bowel incontinence.

Let's delve into the best exercises tailored to combat this condition.

Why Am I Having Bowel Leakage?

Fecal incontinence affects about one in 10 people

Understanding the root cause of bowel leakage is essential for effective management. Several factors also such as diarrhea, or constipation can also contribute to this condition.

Identifying the underlying cause can guide you towards suitable treatment options, including exercise regimens.

What Exercises Are Good For Bowel Leakage?

Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises (Kegels):

what does a pelvic floor look like

These exercises target the muscles that support your bladder, rectum, and uterus (womb). By strengthening these muscles, you can improve bowel control.

To perform Kegels, contract your pelvic floor muscles as if you're trying to stop the flow of urine and holding in wind. Hold for up to 10 seconds, then relax for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. Follow this with 10 Fast Kegels at the end.

Ideally, you should be aiming to do 2-3  sets of these daily. YES! Every single day.

If you struggle to find where your pelvic floor muscles are our Secret Whispers Pelvic Floor Weights that are recommended by pelvic floor physiotherapists can help. They are designed to teach you where your correct pelvic floor muscles are and strengthen these muscles from just 15 minutes a day. 

Anal Sphincter Exercises: 

As above but this time you are really focusing on your anal muscles. Exercises targeting the sphincter muscles can aid in reducing bowel leakage. Properly performed, these exercises can enhance muscle endurance, enabling better control over both wind and stool retention in the rectum.

The back passage, or anus, has two rings of muscle around it ((see diagram below (anal sphincters are in green)).

what do anal sphincters look like
The inner ring comprises the internal sphincter, a muscle that operates involuntarily, remaining closed except during bowel movements. Typically, this action occurs automatically without conscious effort.

Conversely, the outer ring consists of the external sphincter, a voluntary muscle that can be consciously tightened, particularly in cases of urgency or diarrhea.

Both muscles encircle the anus, and either or both may weaken over time due to factors such as childbirth, constipation, straining, or general wear and tear. Occasionally, muscle weakness can occur without identifiable causes. Weak muscles can lead to symptoms such as wind, liquid, or solid stool leakage.


When muscles are impaired or weakened, they may fail to promptly or fully close after using the restroom. Consequently, thorough cleaning becomes challenging, and leakage may persist for some time after bowel movements.

The amount of leakage can vary, ranging from minimal to substantial, and the duration may extend from a few minutes to several hours. Additionally, leakage might occur during activities such as vigorous exercise, lifting heavy objects, or walking long distances. Some individuals may also experience the passing of a small amount of stool with wind.

The External Sphincter: The muscle you can actively exercise is the external sphincter. The goal is to strengthen and thicken this muscle to provide increased support and potentially compress the internal muscle to minimize leakage.

Enhancing the responsiveness of this muscle may also aid in controlling wind.

Similar to other muscles in the body, regular exercise promotes strength gains in the sphincter muscle. Nevertheless, achieving noticeable results requires consistent effort and patience, often spanning several months.

How To Correctly Exercise Your Anal Sphincter

  • Begin by sitting comfortably with your knees slightly apart.
  • Visualize that you are trying to prevent wind from escaping from your back passage.
  • Contract the muscle surrounding the back passage by squeezing it tightly.
  • Imagine the sensation of urgency, squeezing the muscle as if you're on the verge of leaking.
  • Focus on isolating the muscle movement without engaging your buttocks, tummy, or legs. No raised eyebrows either!
  • Notice the tightening sensation around the back passage, with your anus being pulled up and away from the chair.
  • Concentrate on the exercise and maintain the contraction for up to 10 seconds and then relax the muscles slowly for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times. Follow with 10 Fast Kegel Exercises.  Aim to do this 2-3 times a day to really strengthen those anal muscles.
  • You will find after practice that this gets easier to do. 
  • This is the same as doing Kegels (as above), only here you are just focusing on the anal muscles.

Biofeedback Therapy:

This technique involves using sensors to monitor your pelvic floor muscles' activity. With the help of a therapist, you can learn how to better control these muscles, improving bowel function and reducing leakage.

Deep Breathing Exercises:

Stress and anxiety can exacerbate bowel incontinence. Deep breathing exercises can help relax your body and mind, reducing the likelihood of accidents. Practice deep breathing techniques regularly to promote relaxation and alleviate symptoms.

Yoga and Pilates:

These low-impact exercises focus on strengthening the core muscles, including those in the pelvic floor. They also promote flexibility and balance, which can aid in better bowel control over time.

What Exercises Retrain Your Bowels?

  1. Bowel Retraining: This technique involves establishing a regular bowel movement schedule by visiting the bathroom at specific times each day. Over time, your body can learn to anticipate bowel movements, reducing the risk of accidents.

  2. Knees Above Hips: Yes, you hear me talk about this all the time. Use a footstool when going for a poo.
    Why you should never poo without a stool
    We are not designed to go for a poo sitting on a toilet seat. We need our knees raised above our hips. Read 'Why you should never poo without a stool' from a previous blog post.

  3. Rectal Sensory Training: With the guidance of a healthcare professional, you can learn to recognize the sensations associated with bowel movements. This can help improve your ability to control bowel function and prevent leakage.

  4. Perineal Massage: Massaging the area between the anus and genitals (perineum) can improve blood flow and muscle tone, potentially enhancing bowel control. Incorporate perineal massage into your daily routine for optimal results.

In conclusion, while managing bowel incontinence can be challenging, incorporating targeted exercises into your routine can significantly improve symptoms and quality of life. From pelvic floor exercises to mindfulness techniques, finding the right combination of exercises tailored to your needs is key to effectively managing this condition. With consistency and patience, you can regain control and live life to the fullest.

If you're experiencing persistent or severe symptoms of bowel incontinence, please consult with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized guidance, rule out any other conditions and provide treatment options tailored to your needs.

For more information on urinary incontinence and pelvic health, explore our Multi Award Winning Pelvic Floor Strengthener.


Designed to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles from just 15 minutes a day. Improve prolapse, stress and urge incontinence in 6 easy steps.

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