If you are heading off to far flung places on your holidays this year, then you may come across squat toilets, which amount to not much more than a hole in the floor. We so-called advanced Westerners tend to frown on these facilities as ‘backward’ and ‘unhealthy’, but in fact, studies show that as humans, we are meant to squat when we empty our bowels. Our bodies are designed that way.
We’ve been squatting for centuries
Humans squatted to poo for centuries before the W.C. was invented, and most small children will still instinctively squat until they are taught otherwise.
The toilet, with its upright seating position and right angles at the knees and hips, is a relatively modern invention. What’s more, it may be at least partly responsible for many of the modern bowel problems that ARCH therapists see every day in our clinics.
Why should we squat not sit?
The end of the colon joins the rectum at what is called the anorectal angle. This is a bend in the passageway, held in place by a muscle called the puborectalis muscle, which helps us to stay in control of our bowel movements.
When we sit down to use the toilet, this muscle relaxes a little, but a significant anorectal angle is still maintained and the muscle still pulls on the passageway. That’s why we feel we have to push or strain to evacuate our bowels.
When we squat, however, the puborectalis muscle relaxes almost completely, leaving the anorectal angle virtually straight, with no pressure on the passageway. This creates a wide and clear route for the waste to pass through.
Why change now?
It’s strange to think that you have been doing something as fundamental as pooing the wrong way all your life, but it is never too late to change. Learning to squat when you go to the loo can help you to clear out your bowels far more effectively, and can help with a number of functional bowel problems.
Just like a colonic clears out your bowels, squatting to go to the toilet can also clear you out, easing such problems as bloating, wind, and most importantly, really helping with one of our most common problems, constipation.
Easing constipation can in turn help to ease pressure on existing haemhorroids (piles), as well as preventing new ones from occurring. Reduced straining can also help prevent the kind of problems with your pelvic floor muscles that can lead to continence problems and prolapses. It is even thought that a full and thorough evacuation of the bowel may help prevent diseases such as colon cancer and diverticulitis.
A step in the right direction
Getting started with squatting is easier than you think. There are a number of ‘health steps’ on the market that slip easily and discreetly around the base of your loo, ready to pull out when you need them. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Squatty Potty, which found notoriety last year with its distinctly odd promo video, which has been watched over 20million times. The Squatt Loo Stool is another popular step.
Your ARCH therapist is always happy to help you to regain and maintain bowel health, so talk to them about the benefits of squatting at your next appointment. You can find a therapist near you quickly and easily via our website directory.
And remember, if you want the best for your bowels, don’t just sit there, squat there.