Best Position to Sit on the Toilet
Alright, we're going to be talking all things toilet and poo related! Pooing is a natural human function that can indicate if there's something wrong inside your body, so don't ignore it. Think about how you use the toilet - do you sit or do you squat? You may have never even thought about it before, but posture can play a very important part when you go to the toilet - read on to find out the best ways to empty your bowels.
Sitting vs Squatting
A lot of us probably don't even think about how we sit when we need the toilet. You sit down, do your business and leave. But if you are struggling to poo, it may be down to how you position yourself. Sitting toilets started being used in Europe during the 19th century which are made with a pedestal or throne (you'll have one in your house!). Just sitting regularly on the toilet has been linked to issues in the lower abdomen - constipation, haemorrhoids, colon disease, urinary infections and pelvic floor problems. By squatting on the toilet, you can help your body reduce the risk of these health concerns.
Squatting on the toilet
- Use a toilet stool
- Your knees should be higher than your hips
- Rest your hands or elbows on your thighs
- Lean forward into a 35 degree angle
- As you lean forward, make sure your spine is straight
- Bulge your stomach
Why should you squat?
Using a toilet stool (otherwise known as a squatty potty!) can eliminate straining and imitates the squatting position for a smoother release. This will also ensure your knees are higher than your hips which aligns your bowels, making it easier to poo. Take a look at this leaflet from NHS fife on the benefits of squatting. Resting your hands or elbows on your thighs/knees will keep you comfortable and relaxed which is exactly how you want to be when you need the toilet. You should lean forward into a 35 degree angle instead of being up straight at 90 degrees. This is because when you need to go to the toilet, your puborectalis muscle relaxes and the rectum angle widens. The puborectalis muscle is a band that wraps around the lower rectum. Leaning forwards widens the angle of the rectum so the poo can travel straighter and easier. Bulging your stomach when you take a breath in will give you the pressure to push down to empty your bowels. All these techniques will help your body relax and make it easier to go to the toilet.
Researcher Dov Sikirov did a comparative study in 2003 with 28 healthy people to determine how long it would take them to defecate sitting on a standard toilet, lower toilet and by squatting. It concluded that squatting had the most satisfactory bowel emptying, whereas the other 2 techniques involved more straining.
It's common to poo roughly at the same time each day - you may be a morning or evening person, but it's important to make sure you have the time to use the toilet. Most people feel more comfortable pooing in their own home, so getting to know when your body usually needs to go can ensure you won't get stress over it.
Although, if you get the sensation of needing to poo, don't hold it in. Holding it in can lead to chronic constipation which basically means the stool starts to dry up and makes the poo harder to pass through. If you happen to be at work, out shopping or even in a restaurant and you get the urge to poo, go, and don't be embarrassed! Too many people are worried about pooing in public, albeit the smell or the sound, but it can damage your health if you continuously hold it in - sometimes you've just got to go! However, if your body doesn't feel quite ready, you don't want to strain yourself. Straining can give you hemorrhoids (piles) which are lumps that can be inside and around your anus that can cause bleeding (but easily treated).
We're all guilty of taking our phones into the bathroom at home while we're doing our business. But this distraction can prolong unnecessary straining, especially if you're unable to go. If this is the case, get up and try later. Constipation remedies can be purchased in any pharmacy or you can get a prescription from your GP.
Tips for constipation
- Drink more water
- Eat high in fibre food
- Walk around every hour if you spend a lot of time sitting or lying down
- Contact your local pharmacist or GP if it isn't improving
Constipation is usually a result of dehydration. Drinking more water will obviously increase your hydration levels, but it will also make your poo easier to pass as they will be softer instead of dry and painful. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol since these can dehydrate your body further. Eating high fibre food such as nuts, oats and seeds prevents diarrhoea and constipation as soluble fibre thickens your stools and retains the water. If you have a non-active lifestyle and spend a lot of time sitting or lying down, walking around every hour for about 2 minutes can help reduce negative impacts on your body, including not being able to poo. Similarly, regular exercise will also make it easier to poo - even a simple walk or run once a day can improve your bowel movement! It can take some people only a few days to notice a difference, but it can take others a couple of weeks to see improvements.
However, if you're still struggling with constipation, it is best to talk with a pharmacist or GP who can then prescribe a laxative or remedy. If constipation is quite common for you, it's possible you have something called "slow transit constipation" which squatting is unlikely to alleviate. All this means is that it takes a lot longer for your poo to move through the colon because the nerves aren't reacting to the movement. The tips above can contribute to helping, but it is best to get advice from your GP.
Always remember: Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, especially after you poo!
This will help stop the spread of germs - read our blog post How to Share a Bathroom When Self-Isolating During the Coronavirus Pandemic for more information on staying safe at home.
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