The Art of Pooping
The Modern Toilet
The “porcelain throne” was actually invented in the UK as a way to “civilize” such a “barbaric” act as defecating. Previous to about the late 18th and early 19th centuries, our ancestors didn’t have toilets and were pooping by the most natural way our bodies were meant to poop: by SQUATTING. In ancient civilizations, the only people sitting to poop were royalty and the handicapped. Squatting was considered too lowly and an act of the common folk. Sitting was a much more dignified posture as compared to the animalistic squatting position. The problem that arose is that the sitting posture was more for the satisfaction of the ego rather than the function of the body. If one looks at the anatomy of the human colon, what you’ll find is that humans are the only species where our bowels have to move upward against gravity. This is evident where the small intestine transitions into the large intestine by the ascending colon (as an anatomy refresher the ascending colon goes up on the right lower front ribcage and then across the lower rib cage as the transverse colon, to the left, where the descending colon goes down towards the pelvic basin and turns into the sigmoid colon before it turns into he rectum and then your anus). Before the small intestine turns into the large intestine there is a one-way valve called the ileocecal valve that prevents feces from re-entering the small intestine (which would contaminate it). Around this area attached to the ascending colon is the appendix. The appendix has an important function (despite what many in the medical community think) in “screening” toxins as they enter the colon. At the other end of the colon, by the sigmoid portion where it meets the rectum, there is another valve that prevents feces from leaking out of the anus until one is ready to go poop. This valve is called the puborectalis portion of the levator ani muscle. This muscle literally “chokes” the rectum so that we don’t poop ourselves.
The Art of Squatting
In the natural squatting posture, the pressure of the right thigh against the ascending colon allows for the ileocecal valve to completely close and creates pressure so that the feces can be mobilized upward through the ascending colon. At the other end of the colon, the pressure of the left thigh against the rib cage allows for the puborecalis muscle to completely relax and open, allowing for a clean evacuation of the feces. Ideally this process is effortless and there’s no straining involved. During sitting, the ileocecal valve is not supported enough and is loosely “open” allowing for the feces to back log into the small intestine. This can create a tremendous stress to the appendix which can also become back logged and lead to the condition of appendicitis. Also, as a result of sitting there is no mechanical pressure against the ascending colon to assist peristalsis, so the common way for people to get things moving is to strain. Straining involves holding one’s breath and pushing. This is called a Valsalva maneuver and causes the diaphragm muscle to be blown downward which causes the pelvic floor to also become “ballooned”, or pushed downward. Sitting also reinforces the “choking” of the rectum by the puborectalis muscle which is another reason for one to strain. Pooping while sitting is obviously possible, but my point is that it’s not as efficient or ideal as squatting. You’re creating unnecessary stress to the body from a lifetime of pooping on the modern day toilet. Conditions such as appendicitis, constipation, uterine/ovarian fibroids, prostate dysfunctions, bladder incontinence, endometriosis, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, Chrohn’s disease, and any other disease or dysfunction of the abdominal/pelvic viscera as well as degeneration of the lumbosacral spine, hips and knees can be linked to seated pooping.
When I physically assess clients, one of the movements I check is their ability to fully squat to the floor. This is not only giving me information as far as the mobility of their spine and lower extremities but the function of their digestive system as well its relationships to the rest of the body. If I find someone is unable to fully squat, part of their program is to get them as much as possible to do so. In this way, I’ve addressed many birds with so few stones. My recommendation for many of you right now is to get your ass off the chair and see how low you can comfortably squat towards the floor. Another thing I recommend is to either purchase or make your own “squat stool” to be placed around your toilet. A device such as the Nature’s Platform product is a fantastic way to allow for a natural squatting position. I no longer recommend the Life Step foot stool since it is not as effective as the Nature’s platform. The Life Step still promotes most of the weight on one’s ass (or sitting position) rather than the feet.
In summary, if you’re not squatting, you’re not pooping effectively. If you feel you can’t squat (for whatever reason), hire someone that can help you. This is something so simple and so effective that I put it on my list of “Simple Things Patients Can Do on Their Own before Seeing a Doctor”. I also classify it as a clinical pearl. Try it. It works.