Managing your Bowels How the bowel worked before your Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) The bowel is part of your digestive system, whose role is to breakdown what you eat and drink. After a meal is digested, peristalsis (an involuntary muscle movement) pushes chewed food through the digestive tract. Peristalsis takes place several times each day, most frequently after meals (the gastrocolic reflex. This movement takes place without any input from the brain or spinal cord and is not affected by your spinal injury. As the bowel fills with stool it stretches, triggering messages to bowel muscles to move the stool down to the end of the large bowel, and the rectum. Another message coming up to the brain lets it know when it’s time to go to the bathroom, to open the anus, and pass a motion. When it’s socially convenient we will control our abdominal and pelvic muscles to allow us to empty the rectum to pass a motion. This is often called a bowel movement.