Let me set the scene for you: You're on a beautiful island, beachside, and taking in views of the clearest water you've ever seen. It's just so blue, ya know?
The only thing keeping you from cracking jokes with your friends or partner and living your best Baywatch life is the turning of your stomach. Yup, it's day three and you haven't pooped once.
Don't worry, you're not alone. Over 6.8 million people couldn't help but relate when TikToker @demetriusfields showed off the jungle-esque sights on their most recent vacation. "Look at how pretty," they began with a smile before suddenly shifting the camera to a harrowing, upwards view at his frowning face. "I've been on vacation for five days, and I haven't pooped yet."
So, Oriana Barger, a pelvic physical therapist assistant who specializes in women's health at an orthopedic outpatient clinic in San Diego, came to the rescue. "Hi, my name is Oriana, and I teach people how to poop for a living," she introduced herself in the now viral video. "I teach these things to people all day long and get a lot of success from it."
To start us off on the road to anti-constipation, Oriana said: "You need to lay down, have your knees bent, find your hip bones, and go ahead and scoop that tissue up. ... Scoop that skin up."
Or, "You can also do the ILU massage where you go up on that right side, across to the left side, down on that left side; up on that right side, across to the left side, and down," she said.
"You can also do some [lower] belly compressions with this," she said while holding her knees to her chest. "You can rock side to side, take those deep breaths, and then just be there for a moment."
To learn more about why constipation on vacation is so common and how to combat it, BuzzFeed reached out to Oriana, who said the causes can range from a disturbance in a person's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, to dehydration, lack of fiber in the vacay diet, stress from traveling, or a combination of several other factors.
To help ease our guts and get things ~moving~, the 31-year-old's first suggestion in the video was to try the scooping method. "The 'scooping' method is just taking the lower abdominal tissue and gently stretching it," she told BuzzFeed. "This helps to stretch the front of the pelvic diaphragm. When we elongate that tissue and release it, we allow blood flow to come in while potentially releasing any tissue restrictions that may be blocking proper function and motility — aka freeing up space for the intestines."
Next was the ILU massage: "The ILU massage works similar to the scooping method in that it softens up any tissue restrictions in the abdomen along the path of the colon. It also stimulates blood flow to the colon, which promotes mechanical motility, [meaning] it gets your colon moving. One of my favorite parts of the ILU massage is that over time it builds proprioceptive awareness, helping an individual recognize when constipation may be starting, helping them take action sooner," she said.
And finally, for the lower belly compressions, "Lower belly compressions work similar to the scooping method except that the individual is also encouraging the puborectalis and pubococcygeus muscles — muscles that go from the front of your pelvis to your tailbone and rectum — to stretch. If these muscles are overly tight, they can contribute to difficult bowel movements. Pulling the knees in allows for compression on one point, and stretching on the other, a double whammy to encourage a trip to the bathroom."
These massages are a great way to get your gut moving, but Oriana suggests seeking professional help if "they don’t have a bowel movement at least once every three days; if they don’t feel like they eliminate completely; or if they find themselves straining to go," she said. "I can’t give advice for something outside of my scope of practice, but if anyone’s intuition is saying that something isn’t right about their body, they should seek medical help as soon as they can."
And please, she stressed, don't be afraid to talk to a doctor or physical therapist about pooping. "I think it’s important for people to know that if they see a pelvic health specialist, know that we really are OK with talking about all the stuff that would otherwise be considered 'taboo.'"
To learn more about pelvic health, you can follow Oriana on TikTok.