How the Way You Poop Influences Your Health

April 7th 2016

Taylor Bell

Yes, there is a correct way to poop, and you're probably doing it all wrong.

Since the creation of the modern toilet, people have been accustomed to sitting when they go to the bathroom. But it turns out that this more civilized way of answering nature's call is not necessarily the best thing for your body. Instead, experts insist squatting is a much more effective and easy way to poop. 

Here's the straight poop. 

Essentially, your rectum works like a big on-and-off switch. When you're in the sitting position, the puborectalis muscle — the muscle responsible for controlling your bowels — only partially relaxes. However, when you squat, this "off switch" opens all the way, which allows for an easy passage of stools.  

rectum muscle chart

Sitting in an upright position forms a bend in the rectum that essentially creates one big hurdle for your poop. This "hurdle" causes you to push harder and strain your body in order to get your poop to pass.

Squatting typically decreases the amount of effort you use to push out your poop.

There are actually scientists who study poop posture. 

Israeli doctor Dov Sikirov is one of the leading medical advocates for copping a squat. He published a study in the Digestive Diseases and Sciences that discovered those who pooped in a squatting position had a more enjoyable experience and took less time to move their bowels than those who didn't. 

Sikirov found that when squatting, his participants averaged 51 seconds to move their bowels, versus 130 seconds when sitting on a high toilet

One item helping humans have a better poop experience is the Squatty Potty. The Squatty Potty is a little stool to elevate your feet when you're on the toilet. 

"By opening the colon, pooping in the natural squat position makes elimination faster, more complete, and reduces straining," creator of Squatty Potty Robert Edwards told Men's Health. "Squatting feels better. The excellent feeling that comes from a complete elimination is ubiquitous. Everyone likes a good poo, and with the Squatty Potty, you are rarely denied a full complete elimination." 

Squatting can eliminate excessive straining on the bowels, which can often lead to hemorrhoids. Neuroscientist Daniel Lametti pointed this out in a piece he wrote for Slate.

"Straining increases the pressure in your abdomen, causing the veins that line your anus to swell. In hemorrhoid patients, those veins stay swollen and sometimes bleed. In theory, squatting might stave off hemorrhoids by making defecation easier, reducing the need to strain and decreasing abdominal pressure."

In addition, SELF magazine found that certain research proves that squatting can relieve hemorrhoids symptoms. 

Squatting won't solve everything. 

While many experts seem to agree that squatting provides a more pleasurable pooping experience, it's not necessarily the cure-all that it's been made out to be. 

For example, a Squatty Potty advertisement points to reduced risked of colon cancer as one of the many benefits of using the product: 

Eliminating completely and often helps maintain good colon health. Many studies point to fecal buildup in the colon as a cause of diseases including colon cancer. And when there is buildup in the colon, our bodies can’t absorb all the nutrients from the food we eat, leaving us without the energy we could enjoy if our colons were healthy.

However, according to research referenced by SELF, that simply isn't the case. The 2012 study conducted by the Middle East Journal of Digestive Diseases, "our study did not support an appreciable role for using sitting toilets as risk factors for CRC."

So, squat away if it suits you, but don't expect it to solve all your problems.