Squatting: It's Not Just For Muscle Building (another poop post)

As regular readers of both SGW and SAPTstrength, you all know I love talking about poop. Not only is a never-ending source of entertaining jokes, it's also a splendid indicator of your overall health. I think just about every athlete at SAPT has heard the cue, when learning how to squat, "push your butt back as if you're about to poop in the woods," (this nearly always garners a smile and often a chuckle out of the trainee). Well, we're going to explore, literally, squatting as if you're pooping in the woods (except the "woods" is actually your bathroom).

 Why in the world would one want to squat instead of sit while relieving oneself? Well, first off, humans have been doing it for thousands of years to great success. The phrase "cop a squat," didn't just appear for no reason! There's a few exceptions in history, some snooty Pharaohs and upper-crust Romans, but we'll ignore that for the moment because up unti the 19th century, nearly everyone squatted when they released their bowels. Really, it's mainly a Western thing to sit while pooping, and, currently, roughly 1.2 billion people squat instead of sit to do their business.

Confession: I'm one of those 1.2 billion. And I highly recommend it!

Ok, Kelsey, thanks for that sharing of information but is there any real benefit to squatting? Glad you asked!

1. It reduces "straining" because it opens up the recto-anal angle (how's that for a phrase?!)- Sitting constrains that passageway and requires more straining to push the fecal matter through. This could be a solution for those who, after adjusting their diets (ahem!), still struggle with constipation. In fact, Israeli Dr. Berko Sikirov, ran an experiment (several in fact) showed that squatting relieved constipation:

"Primary (simple) constipation is a consequence of habitual bowel elimination on common toilet seats. A considerable proportion of the population with normal bowel movement frequency has difficulty emptying their bowels, the principal cause of which is the obstructive nature of the recto-anal angle and its association with the sitting posture normally used in defecation. The only natural defecation posture for a human being is squatting. The alignment of the recto-anal angle associated with squatting permits smooth bowel elimination. This prevents excessive straining with the potential for resultant damage to the recto-anal region and, possibly, to the colon and other organs. There is no evidence that habitual bowel elimination at a given time each day contributes considerably to the final act of rectal emptying. The natural behavior to empty the bowels in response to a strong defecation reflex alleviates bowel emptying by means of the recto anal inhibitory reflex."

2. The same good Dr. Sikirov also demonstrated, albiet with a smallish sample size, squatting relieved hemorrhoid symptoms in a group of pained sufferers. Here's a table indicating the changes. According to the Mayo Clinic, half of Americans by the age of 50 have experienced hemorrhoid symptoms. Here's a lovely article from Slate about such things.

3. It takes less time to poop. Once again, our pooping hero Dr. Sikirov examined the benefits of squatting with a group of willing volunteers. He split them into three pooping groups: one used a 16-inch toilet, a 12-inch toilet, and the last squatted over a plastic container (don't want to know how that clean up went). Unsurprisingly, the squatting group reported an average of 51 seconds poop time compared to the average 130 seconds of the two sitting groups (I imagine this was the time it took from pants down to finish, not including wiping). He also asked the participants to record the ease of passing; the squatting group reported using the least amount of effort.

So, how does one squat to poo if there is no squatty potty available?

- You can squat over your toilet with your feet on the seat, perch if you will. I don't really recommend this as it can be precarious if you're a) taller than 5 feet or b) have terrible hip mobility.

- You can purchase an actual Squatty Potty, which is a little step stool you can put underneath your feet to get you into a squatted position.

- Forgoing purchasing anything (this is the option I chose), you can just scoot back with your upper back against the tank of the toilet and pull your heels up to the front of the seat. This is actually fairly comfortable (as long as your hips are ok).

There we go. Ladies and gentlemen, I challenge you to try squatting for a week and see if you have any improvement in your business time.

It's nice to take care of your butt.