Crouching with your knees bent while you answer nature’s call – this position doesn’t seem elegant, but there’s a growing following for this method of squatting to poop. Something that’s been done for centuries in some parts of the world like Asia is now becoming a more acceptable style of toilet etiquette on local shores too. Here’s why people are suggesting you squat to poop.
1. Puts Less Pressure On Pelvic Muscles And Rectoanal Canal
To understand why there’s so much fuss about this quaint style of sitting while you poop, it helps to understand the process itself. The pelvic floor contains superficial muscles such as the anal sphincter which can be contracted or released to allow you to defecate. Besides this, there is also the deeper puborectalis muscle that winds its way around the rectum, helping you keep up fecal continence.1 Unfortunately, when you sit down, you tend to position yourself in a manner that pinches the rectum close, to prevent accidental leakage of fecal matter. When you squat, the muscle relaxes, allowing you to poop with ease.
[pullquote]Squatting relaxes the muscle that controls the passage of poop. Squatting also prevents straining on the toilet bowl.[/pullquote]
When you squat, the rectoanal canal also straightens up more, allowing waste to exit more easily. As researchers also found, the more the hip flexion you achieve while squatting, the better it is. This means less straining while pooping as the canal straightens when you flex your hip further. The angle for squatting is about 126° compared to 100° when you sit normally.2
The importance of optimal movements and positions that help the body rid itself of all its waste isn’t something we’ve recently discovered. Ayurveda has always emphasized the importance of proper bowel movements. There’s even a name for the squatting position one needs to be in – malasana or the garland pose of yoga3 (or even the shitting pose, since mala also means excrement in Sanskrit).
As researchers have found, there are many reasons as far as health goes, for you to squat when you poop.
2. Is More Hygienic
Since you are not sitting down directly on the toilet seat, but hovering over the pot, you do not come in contact with the seat. This means fewer chances of picking up germs or bacteria from previous users or other contamination. Due to the design of the traditional squatting toilet, you also are unlikely to splash the water from the toilet bowl when you defecate.4
3. Empties The Bowel Completely
Like we said, this position is optimal for your body and is also a more natural way to push fecal matter out.5 Since you are in the right position for the rectum and anus (nearly vertical) to empty out with the help of gravity, you are able to fully empty bowels of waste.6
4. Helps Overcome Constipation
Often, those who otherwise struggle to poop due to constipation, find it easier when they are squatting because you have the posture on your side.7
5. Speeds Up Emptying Of Bowels
Besides helping achieve a more thorough purge, squatting also helps the process finish faster. One study found that those who squatted finished their bowel movement in just 50 seconds, against the 130 seconds needed by those who were in the sitting position.8
6. Protects Nerves In The Bladder, Uterus, And Prostate
The nerves in your bladder, uterus, as well as prostate tend to get stretched and sometimes damaged in the regular seated position on a western-style throne. However, while squatting the nerves are less likely to be damaged because the squatting position protects them.9
7. Reduces Hemorrhoids
Because the strain on the anus and surrounding area is reduced, you are also less likely to have the problem of hemorrhoids, inflamed and swollen veins of the anus and rectum.10
8. Eases Pressure On The Uterus During Pregnancy
For women with a baby on board, the squatting position takes some of the load off the uterus while pooping. Plus, it comes with the added bonus of getting in some squats, which are said to help ease delivery.11
9. Reduces The Chances Of Colorectal Disorders
Squatting may even help reduce the incidence of colorectal disorders like appendicitis, colitis (inflammation of the digestive tract), and diverticulosis (bulging pouches in the colon).12
Even if squatting over a traditional squatting toilet is something you’d never do, there are modern innovations or simple workarounds that simulate squatting. For instance, a foot stool placed near the usual western style toilet can help you achieve a semi-squat while you remain seated. Other special devices made for squatting to poop like the “squatty potty”, are also available to buy, so there should be no reason for you not to make the switch!
|↑1||Agarwal, Sneh. “Anatomy of the pelvic floor and anal sphincters.” JIMSA 25, no. 1 (2012): 19-21.|
|↑2, ↑5||Sakakibara, Ryuji, Kuniko Tsunoyama, Hiroyasu Hosoi, Osamu Takahashi, Megumi Sugiyama, Masahiko Kishi, Emina Ogawa, Hitoshi Terada, Tomoyuki Uchiyama, and Tomonori Yamanishi. “Influence of body position on defecation in humans.” LUTS: Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms 2, no. 1 (2010): 16-21.|
|↑3||Garland Pose. Yoga Journal.|
|↑4, ↑6, ↑9||Demirbilek, Oya. “Alla Turca: Squatting for Health and Hygiene.” A Friendly Rest Room: Developing Toilets of the Future for Disabled and Elderly People 27 (2011): 271.|
|↑7||Sikirov, B. A. “Primary constipation: an underlying mechanism.” Medical hypotheses 28, no. 2 (1989): 71-73.|
|↑8||Sikirov, Dov. “Comparison of straining during defecation in three positions: results and implications for human health.” Digestive diseases and sciences 48, no. 7 (2003): 1201-1205.|
|↑10, ↑11, ↑12||Marek, Tadeusz, Waldemar Karwowski, and Valerie Rice, eds. Advances in understanding human performance: Neuroergonomics, human factors design, and special populations. CRC Press, 2010.|