How to Poop

Many of you may have wondered throughout your life, “Am I doing this right?” Well, if you asked this in relation to how you poop, you are NOT doing it right.  Western toilets are not designed to adequately relieve the kink in your colon that provides natural continence, leading to constipation, heart attacks, and diverticulosis (diverticulosis happens when the colon out pockets at weaknesses in the colon wall).  However, you are in luck because I have stumbled across the greatest pooping invention since the indoor toilet.

The Squatty Potty (image courtesy of Squatty Potty)

The Squatty Potty (image courtesy of Squatty Potty)

Now, stumbling across pooping inventions sounds like a risky proposition for my shoes, but in this case, I was housesitting at my friend’s house and noticed an unusual footrest nestled discreetly below her toilet.  While sitting there, doing my thing, I pushed the unusual footrest out and propped my feet up on it.  Not only was it an extremely comfortable sitting position, it was super helpful.  I pooped fast and completely!


Straining causes problems

One of the major things to not do while pooping is to strain or force your bowel movement.  Straining while pooping is not healthy.  This can cause hemorrhoids [1], diverticulosis [2], hernias [3] and lead to incontinence later in life [4].  Additionally, these diagnoses could lead to further complications. Ideally, pooping should warrant no more effort than peeing.

Straining can also lead to heart events while on the toilet. In order to perform the strain for bowel movements, the Valsalva maneuver is performed (forced exhalation against a closed mouth).  This increases blood pressure and then drastically drops it after the pressure is released.  The drastic changes in blood pressure and volume cause plaque to break free from arterial walls and travel in the blood stream until blocking a portion of the heart, causing a heart attack.  Basically, this means that the Valsalva maneuver starts with a regular amount of blood, but then sends a surge of lots of blood followed by a decrease in blood, causing a wave of sorts..  This is rumored to be what happened to Elvis Presley. The autopsy states that Elvis Presley died of a heart attack in his bathroom.  Chronic constipation recently has been suspected to be the cause of the heart attack [5].

Straining while pooping is not the greatest thing to do to your body.  You might be wondering now what other options are available.  The best available option is the Squatty Potty (or a similarly designed footrest). The Squatty Potty reduces straining significantly. And it could even save your life!


How the Squatty Potty works

Anorectal angle (image courtesy of Squatty Potty).

Anorectal angle (image courtesy of Squatty Potty).

The Squatty Potty is a great invention.  It is a simple, easy change to your lifestyle without any side effects (besides some barely noticeable clutter next to your toilet).  The Squatty Potty utilizes a simple anatomical concept to facilitate an easier way of pooping.  There is a muscle (the puborectalis muscle) that creates an anorectal angle (angle between the rectum where poop is stored and the anus where the poop comes out).  When standing, the muscle is engaged, creating continence by preventing the poop from pushing down on the anus.  When sitting, the muscle is still partially engaged.  However, when squatting, that muscle is completely relaxed allowing the sigmoid colon to straighten.  The Squatty Potty puts your body into a position where the muscle can relax. The anorectal angle is straightened, relieving constipation, hemorrhoids, and reducing the likelihood urinary and bladder infections in women by allowing bladder to completely empty [6].  A few studies have been performed and show that the squatting posture is far more comfortable and more complete for elimination [7].


Other Options

If the Squatty Potty is out of your price range, or you want to test out the concept before investing in one, you can try a range of materials.  I have heard of people using concrete blocks, stacks of phone books, and empty coffee cans stacked up next to their toilets to prop their feet up and improve the rectal angle.  All of these are completely viable options.  However I like the Squatty Potty because of its design and the fact it can be nestled away unobtrusively.


[1]    “Hemorrhoids: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” U.S National Library of Medicine. Ed. Todd Eisner, MD and David Zieve, MD, MHA. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.

[2]    “Diverticular Disease Causes, Symptoms, Treatments.” WebMD. Ed. Kimball Johnson, MD. WebMD, 06 July 2012. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.

[3]     “Hernia: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” U.S National Library of Medicine. Ed. Robert A. Cowles, MD, David Zieve, MD, MHA, David Eltz, and Stephanie Slon. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.

[4]    Mayo Clinic Staff. “Fecal Incontinence – Causes.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 06 Nov. 2012. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.

[5]      Sheridan, Michael. “Chronic Constipation Killed Elvis Presley, Claims His Personal Physician, Dr. George Nichopoulos.” NY Daily News. N.p., 06 May 2010. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.

[6]      “Squatting Concept for Better Bowel Movements.” Squatty Potty. N.p., 2013. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.

[7]      Sikirov, B. A. “Etiology and Pathogenesis of Diverticulosis Coli: A New Approach.” Medical Hypotheses 26 (1988): 17-20.


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