Recently at a good friend's dinner party, while using her bathroom I noticed a stool next to the toilet. Her kids were way past the small-kid stage of needing a step in order to clamber onto the potty seat, so I made a casual joke about her needing it after one too many glasses of wine. She pulled me aside, got a very serious look on her face, and said, "No. I use it. To poop."
And there you have it. My mind was blown right then and there. As she explained how she used the stool — thankfully sparing me any specific details — it made total sense. Get ready because I'm about to lay down some serious bathroom talk.
The issue with sitting while having a bowel movement is that it totally blocks the flow from your colon. We all have a Puborectalis muscle that squeezes around the place where the colon meets the rectum, helping to maintain continence (it prevents solid waste from falling out until you're ready). Sitting only allows that muscle to partially relax, which is why it can take people a long time sitting (and straining) for anything to happen. When your body can assume a squatting position with your knees above your hips, it relaxes the Puborectalis muscle fully and allows your colon to empty quickly and completely.
There are even slanted stools specifically designed for this purpose, like the Squatty Potty. This space-saver has a cutout in the middle so it fits around your toilet when you're not using it. You can also buy a regular step stool so no one knows what you're using it for; just make sure it's the right height, allowing a comfortable squatting position.
Beginner squatters can keep their bum resting on the seat, but for those more adventurous types, you can try putting all your weight on the stool and actually squatting (heck, you'll get in a great butt and thigh workout while you're at it!). And don't feel frustrated if things don't go as planned on your first go at it — this could take some time to figure out the right stool height and feet positioning. And you might be surprised how much more you can eliminate from the simple act of opening up your hips. If constipation is all too familiar, this may be the cure to your digestive woes.
If you've never heard of using a stool for your stool, your skepticism is understandable. But hey, if you made it this far reading all about squatting while pooping, there's some part of you that's intrigued and can't wait until the urge comes on so you can try it for yourself. One thing we can all agree on is that it's amazing what taking a proper poop first thing in the morning can do for the soul — it sets the tone for the entire day. You owe it to yourself, and those around you to have a happier morning by giving this a try. It could change the way you poop forever.
This post was originally published on June 13, 2015.