As Americans, we have long prided ourselves on being a nation of indoor plumbing. Civilization’s march across our country is marked by milestones - electricity and indoor plumbing being among the first. But some doctors and clever marketers believe that we got the whole potty thing wrong.

According to them, we deal with constipation and hemorrhoids more in this country than in countries who continue the age old practice of squatting. The science behind the claims is very simple. When we stand, the angle between our colon and our rectum is about 90°, designed to keep the contents of our colon from exuding too much pressure on the rectum. When sitting on an American style toilet, our colon is bent at a near 45° angle, allowing for passage through to the rectum, but not without some effort. Squatting allows the colon to be straight in line with the rectum and not constricted by muscles that are designed to anchor your colon in position. And to make matters worse, leaning forward only makes the constriction more severe.

The squatting advocates do not suggest we head out to the woods; but rather simply add a footstool to elevate your knees above your waist in a sort of pseudo-squat. By making this simple change, the claim is that the bowels evacuate more rapidly and completely. Several clever marketers have even developed a foot rest for just this purpose. But you don’t need a specialty footrest; you can use any you may have at home.

There are no clinical trials to support the claim, just observational claims and patient experience and a few case studies available on line. But, if you suffer from constipation or hemorrhoids, it might be worth a try. In theory, it could also take some fighting out of the potty training experience, if you have a child that holds their bowel movements.

If you have any concerns, the doctors at GI Associates are here to discuss them with you.


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