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For Easier Pooping: Is Squatting Really Better Than Sitting?

For Easier Pooping: Is Squatting Really Better Than Sitting?

Does posture really matter when going to the bathroom?

It is an unfortunate fact that many adults living in Western countries have experienced problems when passing stools and with their gastrointestinal health in general. Among the most common of the digestion-related conditions are hemorrhoids, with around half of the American population suffering from symptoms of this ailment which include soreness and bleeding from the rectum. Constipation is another problem that afflicts many people living in economically well-developed countries. In short, people with access to modern bathroom facilities often appear afflicted with complaints that were not so often seen in the past and are not often widespread in less developed areas of the world. This has led some experts to speculate that the widespread adoption of the modern Western toilet has contributed to the prevalence of digestive disorders in affluent countries.

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Is squatting a more natural and healthy position compared with sitting?

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squatting vs sitting
    Image credit: Vincent Ho/Western Sydney University via The Conversation. CC BY-ND 4.0

    The most widely-used argument in favor of squatting rather than sitting to pass bowel movements focuses on the angle of the rectum in each position. When a person sits on a toilet, their rectum is folded over, which means that some straining is usually required in order to successfully pass stools. However, squatting allows this angle to straighten out. This means that gravity can play a useful role in aiding with bowel evacuation. Daniel Lametti, a neuroscientist who wrote an article on the debate for Slate, believes that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that squatting is preferable to sitting on the basis that it may well reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids. He personally tested the theory for a period of one week and reported that he spent much less time on the toilet each morning in a squatting rather than a seated position.

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    The diagram above shows why squatting may work to your advantage when passing stools. Seating in the posture modeled by the figure on the left allows the puborectalis muscle to contract around the external sphincter, which means that more straining is required to pass bowel movements. However, squatting as the figure on the right is doing loosens the puborectalis, allowing the descent of the pelvic floor and the easier passing of feces.

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    How to convert your toilet to facilitate squatting

    If you would like to experiment with a change in posture when it comes to using the toilet, there are a few options open to you. If you are flexible and able to hold your balance, you can try a perching squatted position. You may wish to hold onto something sturdy the first couple of times to make sure that you don’t fall off! Alternatively, you could place a chair in front of the toilet and rest your feet on it so that your posture is closer to a squat-like pose.

    If you have less faith in your balance and want a convenient solution, you could invest in a specially-designed device to help you adopt a squatting position. The Squatty Potty was designed by the Edwards family from Utah, who wanted an easy-to-use solution that would allow anyone to turn their toilet into an easy place upon which to squat. It requires no complex fitting and is simply placed around the bottom of any standard toilet. The makers have worked with many prototypes to ensure that their product is the “perfect height, shape and design to work with any toilet.”

    Why squatting isn’t a cure-all

    The extent to which our bathroom posture is linked to various diseases is still open to debate. However, we do know that no change in position will compensate for a poor diet and other unhealthy lifestyle choices. In order to stand the best chance of passing stools comfortably, you need to eat a diet rich in fiber. Include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on a regular basis. This will ensure that your bowel movements are of the right consistency, which will help reduce the need to strain when you go to the toilet. Another important factor is hydration. Make sure that you drink plenty of fluids, as this also works in reducing the time it takes for stools to pass through the rectum.

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    Jay Hill

    Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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