Why Squatting is the Best Position to Empty Your Bowels

As part of biological routine of nearly all living organisms, elimination of unneeded and digested food remains is a requirement of ongoing health.  Within human beings, the position the individual utilized in the elimination of fecal waste may have far-extending health consequences, and while sitting has been the primarily position adopted in western societies in the last two centuries, squatting has been found to offer many discerning advantages to one’s well-being. 

Expediency of Elimination

Addressed in greater detail below, the quantity of time one spends during fecal elimination has been found to have profound effects on the health of the body.  Studies have shown the amount of strain, as well as the energy expended to complete elimination, are both greatly reduced when one is positioned in the squatting position rather than a sitting position.1  In part, the squatting position allows the rectoanal canal to move into a straight position, allowing for quicker and easier fecal elimination, as opposed to the curvature put onto the canal in a sitting position.2

Reduction of Digestive Issues

Below are several major health issues that can be reduced, if not eliminated, by replacing the sitting position on a toilet with squatting for a bowel movement.  In addition to straightening the rectoanal canal, squatting also widens the rectoanal angle, allowing the puborectalis muscle to relax and reduce strain further.3

Constipation

Hard and dry bowel movements, in addition to a diet poor in fiber, may result in chronic constipation.  While the position in squatting will not eliminate the causes of constipation fully, utilizing squatting for elimination will reduce the amount of time one remains constipations, and eliminate the discomfort and pain associated with it.4

Hemorrhoids

Primarily created from straining in the process of fecal elimination, hemorrhoids are veins that have protruded outside of the anus or lower rectum.  Their presence is not only painful, but may also cause bleeding during elimination, and make one’s life both uncomfortable and difficult.  Clinical studies have shown that in individuals suffering from hemorrhoids have shown a significant reduction in symptoms, if not outright elimination, when squatting, rather than sitting, was utilized during the elimination process. Primarily, the reduced volume of time required for total elimination was found to be approximately 1 minute in the squatting position, rather than 4 minutes to 15 minutes required in the sitting position.5

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Traumatic injury in the pelvic area, as well as childbirth, may result in the Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, where the individual has difficulty controlling the muscles that allow for elimination of fecal waste from the body.  Incomplete bowel movements, as well as painful urination, ongoing pain in the pelvic region, as well as painful intercourse for females, are some of the more common symptoms.6  While squatting is not a cure for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, it will improve the ongoing symptoms in regards to problem elimination.7

Irritable Bowel Disease

The chronic bloating and pain resulting from Irritable Bowel Disease can result in cramping, gas, as well as constipation.8   As with Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, many of the symptoms from Irritable Bowel Disease can be greatly reduced through the use of squatting for fecal elimination.9

Anal Fissures

Childbirth, as well as severe straining or passing large, hard stools during bowel movements, can create anal fissures, which are small tears along the linings of the anus.  Resulting in great pain, fissures not only cause bleeding, but may expose the muscle underneath.10  Squatting reduces the pressure on the anal fissure, allowing it to heal, and reducing the likelihood of reopening the tear during the bowel movement.11

Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is the bulging of areas of the outer layers of the large intestine where the inner mucosa layer has weakened, creating sacs for fecal material to collect rather than move forward towards the rectum for elimination.  Most common among age 60+ in the western countries of the United States, Canada, England, and Australia, it is virtually unheard of in the countries of Africa and Asia.12  Further studies have shown that in addition to the lower fiber intake in western countries compared to their eastern counterparts, habitual bowel emptying in a sitting posture in more prevalent in the west.  The reduced straining that is resultant of the squatting position in bowel elimination in African and Asian nations result in part of lower diverticulitis rates in these regions of the world.13

Overview

Squatting for fecal elimination not only has numerous health benefits, but also reduces the amount of time one spends addressing this need.  While other areas of one’s health should also be addressed, squatting can reduce a great number of everyday health problems many individuals deal with.

 

References

1 Sikirov, D. “Comparison of Straining During Defecation in Three Positions: Results and Implications for Human Health,” Digestive Diseases and Sciences,  July 2003, Volume 48, Issue 7, pp 1201–1205.

2 Sakakibara,  R., et al, “Influence of Body Position on Defecation of Humans,” Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms,  Volume 2, Issue 1, April 2010.

3 Ho, V., “What’s the best way to go to the toilet – squatting or sitting?” The Conversation, August 17, 2016.

4 Tagart, R., “The Anal Canal and Rectum: Their Varying Relationship and Its Effect on Anal Continence,” Diseases of the Colon and Rectum, Volume 9, Issue 6, 1966, pp. 449-452.

5 Dimmer, C.,  et al, “Squatting for the Prevention of Haemorrhoids,” Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, Issue No. 159, October 1996, pp. 66-70.

6 “Pelvic Floor Dysfunction,” Cleveland Clinic, February 14, 2014.

7 Barclay, E., “For Best Toilet Health: Squat Or Sit?” National Public Radio, September 28, 2012.

8 “Irritable bowel syndrome,” Mayo Clinic, July 31, 2014.

9 Alvare, S., Nursing Assistant Care, page 212, Hartman Publishing, 2005.

10 “Anal Fissure,” Healthline, 2017.

11 Niven, D., “Ailment: Fissure,” Grow Youthful, May 13, 2010.

12Weizman, A., “Diverticular disease: Epidemiology and management,” Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology, 2011 Jul; 25(7): 385–389.

13“Diverticulitis – Why Fewer Asians and Africans Get It…” Toilet-Related-Ailments.com