We Tried TikTok's Viral Balloon Hack To Poop Instantly. Here's How It Went

Sometimes, I wish that I could train my body to poop on command. These are those times when, inexplicably, there are urgent matters to get sorted first thing in the morning but my bowels aren't really cooperating. I haven't had my coffee yet and probably won't have time to before I head out the door, but I still want to get things out of my system because, well, I don't know when I'll next be near a bathroom.

These are also the times when TikTok viral hacks to poop in just minutes flit across my mind. Some of them, albeit silly, have actually worked. So when an orthopedic doctor of physical therapy by the name of Kelly Peterson shared a post on TikTok under her handle the.belly.whisperer about doing something as simple as blowing up a balloon to relieve constipation, I told myself I'd add another hack to my list. 

The tip was simple. Sit on your toilet seat as you would normally, grab a balloon, take a breath in (which you would normally do when a balloon has to be blown up), and exhale into the balloon to inflate it. Although the post refers to the balloon hack as "constipation magic," which I can only assume means the trick makes you poop in just seconds, that wasn't the case for me. But it did work. Here's what happened.   

The balloon hack works, but not in the way you think

I tried the hack for three consecutive days just to see if I was getting the technique right. Even though I've blown up dozens of balloons in my adult life (my fear of them popping in my face aside, of course), I was suddenly worried about technique when poop was involved. 

On the first day, nothing happened; but I did feel my bowels becoming activated during the balloon-blowing exercise. On the second and third days, things did start moving but not immediately. I had to inflate the balloon a couple of times on two different tries before there was success. However, something else that's interesting happened. It got me thinking about my breathing while on the toilet seat. 

According to Kelly Peterson, the balloon hack does exactly that —  it promotes something called "diaphragmatic breathing" to relieve constipation. Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as "belly breathing" or "abdominal breathing," is meant to help you engage and strengthen your diaphragm while you breathe, something we don't consciously do in the often shallow, chest-focused breaths we take as we go about our day. The idea is to slowly draw in a breath through your nose and feel the expansion of your stomach, with your chest remaining still. As you exhale, your abdominal muscles tighten and your stomach falls downward, while your chest remains still. It's meant to help you relax, reduce your blood pressure, decrease your heart rate, and help ease symptoms of anxiety, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and stress. How does it get you to poop instantly, though?

How diaphragmatic breathing could help you poop

As explained by Kelly Peterson, when you're blowing into a balloon, you're forcefully exhaling, and this activates both your core and your pelvic floor muscles. "So if you have a little poop left in the rectum or feel like it's right there but won't come out, you can exhale to help the pelvic floor muscles and core to help 'pinch it off' and exit without pushing or straining," shared the physical therapist. 

This is something I became aware of too — how I was straining without actually straining. Blowing up the balloon helped me exert just enough pressure via the abdominal muscles to get things moving, without actually straining. Exerting strain during bowel movement is not recommended by health experts, especially if you're resorting to that often. It can lead to things like hemorrhoids and anal fissures.

Diaphragmatic breathing also helps calm and massage the digestive system, and this is something I felt too. When you're constipated, one of the things you may do unconsciously is hold your breath, also known as "breath hold." Diaphragmatic breathing makes you consciously avoid that. 

Would I recommend the balloon hack for constipation? Yes, only because it's an interesting way to bring focus to breathing and help you gently exert pressure to get things moving. Would I use this hack often? Probably not. Now that I know how important breathing is for a bowel movement, I will just do that without the help of a balloon. I can definitely see, however, the appeal of a balloon when teaching kids how to breathe properly for a bowel movement.