I have to admit, when I started blogging, a post about the proper position while using the restroom was not on my list to write! Lately, I’ve come across research and resources that have convinced me that this is an important topic, and I’m going to attempt to address it while keeping the TMI to a minimum.
The Idea of Squatting
The concept of squatting when defecating is not a new one. In fact, I was quite surprised the first couple of times I saw toilets designed for this purpose when traveling. At that time, I just considered it an outdated and primitive toilet, and couldn’t understand why anyone would use one.
Fast forward a few years to my toothpaste and deodorant making, organic-cooking days and the concept actually makes a lot of sense. In fact, young children often do this naturally when eliminating (I can often tell when my one year old is about to need a diaper change because she is squatting down behind the couch).
Recently, I’ve seen posts from everyone from Dr. Mercola to Dr. Oz touting the benefits of proper bathroom posture, and even Bill Gates recently held a contest to re-design the modern toilet. Experts point out that the squatting position is more natural and can help avoid colon disease, constipation, hemorrhoids, pelvic floor issues and similar ailments. Since Colon disease runs in my family and hemorrhoids and pelvic floor issues can often be an unfortunate side effect of pregnancy, I was willing to give it a try.
As this website explains: “When we’re sitting this bend, called the anorectal angle, is kinked which puts upward pressure on the rectum and keeps the feces inside. This creates the need to STRAIN in order to eliminate. Compare sitting on the toilet to a kinked garden hose, it just doesn’t work properly. In a squatting posture the bend straightens out and defecation becomes easier.
Assuming the squat position is the natural way to achieve easier and more complete elimination. Research has shown that in some people, the kink is completely gone while squatting.”
5 Problems with Sitting On Your Toilet
Let’s face it: most of us don’t get the fiber we need in our diets. It’s true. And we fail to get all the water we need as well. These two things along with improper toilet posture which doesn’t allow us to eliminate completely is a bad combination that creates hard dry stools. These hard dry stools are very hard to push out. It’s called constipation, and we’ve all experienced it. Unfortunately, it’s the norm for altogether too many of us. But that’s just the beginning…
Getting those hard stools out calls for lots of pushing. And that pressure causes hemorrhoids, which can be very painful. Hemorrhoids are inflamed anal varicose veins that have swollen because of our need to push excessively to get those hard stools to pass. And as bad as hemorrhoids are, they aren’t the worst of our potential problems.
#3: Colon Disease
Eliminating completely and often helps maintain good colon health. Many studies point to fecal buildup in the colon as a cause of diseases including colon cancer. And when there is buildup in the colon, our bodies can’t absorb all the nutrients from the food we eat, leaving us without the energy we could enjoy if our colons were healthy.
#4: Urinary Difficulty/Infections
Urinary flow is usually stronger and easier when women squat to urinate. The bladder is emptied more completely when squatting rather than sitting or “hovering”. Squatting can help reduce episodes of urinary tract infections in both frequency and intensity. Now, that is good news!
#5: Pelvic Floor Issues
One of the main causes of this condition is straining on the toilet. The “sitting” position causes a great amount of pressure on the anorectal Angle of the colon causing the lower part of the colon to drop and protrude into the wall of the vagina. Pelvic floor nerves can be protected by squatting for bowel elimination. Men can also suffer from pelvic floor disorders and can readily benefit from using the Squatty Potty as a part of their everyday routine.
To help explain the concept of squatting and how it can be beneficial, I interviewed Robert Edwards, creator of the Squatty Potty:
How did the concept of the Squatty Potty come about?
My mother has suffered from lifelong colon issues and has spent years trying to find a way to alleviate them. A colon hydro-therapist suggested putting her feet up and so she started gathering boxes and stacking phone books in front of the toilet to serve as squatting platforms. The results were immediate, but the method was inconvenient and was always in the way. So, I designed a footstool that fits snugly underneath the toilet when not in use, and is the correct height and slant for use with the westernized toilet.
To create the best possible product, I consulted with doctors, nurses, alignment specialists and natural health experts to identify the perfect height, position and angle ideal for squatting in addition to reading numerous studies on the subject and working with pelvic floor clinics and gastroenterologists nationwide to develop something that they would (and do) recommend to their clients
We started selling Squatty Potties in fall of 2011 out of our St. George headquarters. We are proud to say that our products are manufactured in the USA.
What are some of the shortcomings of the current way most of us use the restroom?
The colon doesn’t fully relax in the sitting position. It isn’t until the colon is in the squatting position that the strain (to go) is eliminated. The kink in your colon maintains continence. Squatting properly aligns the colon and peristalsis is normalized (or quickened). [The above video explains more.]
In short, what is the benefit of using the Squatty Potty compared to just using the restroom “normally?”
The Squatty Potty helps create a squatting position while on the toilet which lends itself to better toilet posture, helping users prevent colon disease, constipation, hemorrhoids and similar ailments.
Are there any studies or research that explain the concept/science behind why this type of position is so much more beneficial?
Yes, this study addresses how body position impacts proper elimination (PDF).
Can anyone use the Squatty Potty or are there people who won’t be able to use it?
Everyone can use the Squatty Potty! Because we have styles that range from 5-9 inches, most everyone can find a height that works for them. It’s an easy solution for women with pelvic floor issues, seniors with constipation and everyone else in between.
Any other info you would like my readers to know?
Physiologically, we are designed to squat. I think a great example can be seen in children that are still in diapers who squat to poop. Many of them then struggle to poop when sitting on training toilets because it is unnatural – they instinctively squat.
The concept made a lot of sense to me, especially after seeing with myself and other laboring women, how relaxation and proper positioning of the sphincter muscles can make a night and day difference in labor (and babies are much bigger!). I’d noticed in the past how the relaxation techniques I used in labor (relaxing the jaw, etc) can help elimination be a lot easier, and it made sense that position would have an effect as well (as squatting often makes labor faster/easier as well).
After reading several accounts of people whose elimination was greatly improved by simply changing their position, I attempted to try it their way and just squat on the toilet seat. Sounds easy enough, but when pregnant, it is not. Hilarity ensued.
I was excited to have the chance to try the Squatty Potty, as it is much more convenient that trying to balance on the toilet seat (and more sanitary!), and it looks a lot better than the empty coconut oil buckets I had tried using.
What surprised me with the Squatty Potty was the immediate difference I noticed. The first time I used it, things moved much more quickly (there I go starting with the TMI). Within two days, this position felt so natural that it was strange to sit in the “normal position” anymore.
Another advantage, as we currently have a newly potty-taught little one is that it is the perfect height for kids to use to climb up to the toilet. Between the Squatty Potty and the convertible toilet seat for little ones that we just installed, we’ve had a lot fewer “I-couldn’t-get-there-in-time” accidents. My husband is also very happy that we’ve gotten rid of the free standing kids potty, as it had gotten permanently gross after being used for multiple kids.
Though I don’t struggle with constipation during pregnancy, (thank you probiotics!) I have struggled with hemorrhoids at the end of a couple of my pregnancies and my midwives are often reminding of the importance of maintaining pelvic floor strength since I’ve had my babies so close together. I’m excited to see what effect the Squatty Potty might have in both of these areas.
If you haven’t tried it, I’d definitely recommend modifying your restroom posture to see how it will effect your bowel health. I was surprised at the difference and think you will be too!
What do you think? Crazy concept or does it make sense? Have you tried it? Join the conversation below!