Education is key when it comes to taking power over your own health and wellness. When you need support, knowing more about how your body works will help you ask the right questions and understand the answers from your medical or wellness team. I look at the role movement can play in your health, wellness and recovery to full and optimal function. The articles are not meant to take the place of medical advice and should not be used as such.
We've lost squatting as a culture. Why is squatting so important?
A client recently shared a story with me when we were talking about the benefits of squatting. Her kid gave a speech at school on squatting to bathroom! Clearly, the next generation is going to save the world. She gave me permission to share the story; her kid is not on social media (this also gives me so much hope!) so they did not want their name used, but generously agreed to let me share the speech, which I copy out below. After teaching a squatting class in the membership, a few clients wrote stories about squatting that I thought were perfect to share here as well. I'd love to hear your squatting stories!
A Speech on Squatting - by Anonymous (16 years old)
Who likes waiting in line for the washroom? Can I see a show of hands? No one, right? I have a revolutionary idea that will change life for North Americans and will improve your overall health. What am I referring to? Squatter toilets! Please allow me to explain… Growing up in Asia, I was used to using what is called a squatter toilet; they are very common. I spent more than 7 years of my early childhood using squatter toilets. I never missed the target and my shoes never got wet. A squatter toilet is basically a toilet bowl embedded in the ground with two tiles on either side for your feet. It seems like a simple device but if you consider that you go to the washroom multiple times a day, making the switch to squatting will change your life.
I’m sure you’ve all been there, waiting in a long line for the washroom at the mall or amusement park, wasting precious time. Well, if there were squatter toilets the line would go much faster. Studies show that squatting to relieve yourself decreases evacuation time compared to sitting. How you may ask? Well, first we need to get through a little anatomy. Similar to how a kink in a hose prevents water from spraying, the puborectalis muscles loop around the rectum of your colon to make a kink that prevents it from losing its contents or preventing number two accidents. When you are in a sitting position the puborectalis muscles can not relax completely which keeps the kink in your colon requiring more effort to push the contents out. In a squatting position, the puborectalis muscles relax so there is a smaller kink and the colon is much straighter allowing for easier and faster emptying. According to Vincent Ho, a gastroenterologist from Western Sydney University, the puborectalis muscle normally pulls the rectum forward to create a tight angle - known as the anorectal angle or the kink. During defecation, the puborectalis muscle will relax and the anorectal angle will widen. Squatting widens the anorectal angle even more to allow a clearer and straighter passage for stools to pass through the anal canal. Therefore squatting can lead to a faster more complete evacuation of the colon.
Not only can you save time with squatter toilets, there are also health benefits. Having a clear passage for evacuation reduces constipation and requires less straining which helps prevent hemorrhoids. People in Asian and African countries where squatter toilets are the norm suffer less from constipation and hemorrhoids. Although diet also plays a role in these conditions, squatting is also an important contributing factor. If you suffer from constipation why not give squatting a try over laxatives and other medicines. Squatting also works the pelvic floor muscles which are important for posture, pleasure and preventing number one accidents.
Finally, having squatter public toilets would be more pleasant for users. Does anyone actually sit on a public toilet seat? I’d guess most people use toilet paper liners or toilet paper to line the seat which isn’t environmentally friendly. Or some people squat without lifting the seat and leave a wet seat for the next person. Think about how many times you’ve had to skip a booth to find a clean seat. Not everyone is considerate when using public washrooms. With squatter toilets there are no toilet seats, all problems solved. No need to line the seat when you gotta go urgently and no worries about infectious bacteria lingering around. Clean, contactless and safe the amazing squatter toilet.
The best part about squatting is that it’s risk-free, just bend your knees and hip deeply. If you need some help, use a footstool to help you get into the right position. Do try this at home! Once you start reaping the benefits of quicker and easier evacuations, share the love by petitioning authorities and commercial centers to install squatter toilets to make everyone's life easier. Less waiting times, quicker and easier evacuations, less constipation and hemorrhoids and cleaner, more pleasant washroom experiences all thanks to the simple squatter toilet.
Thank you anonymous - I could not agree more and I could not have said it better myself!
And now, a few stories from clients on squatting:
I live in an area that is culturally & ethnically very diverse. There are two Sikh temples very close to me. My local park is well used by the community. Early morning walking is encouraged by the Sikh faith. Sikh elders will gather to chat at the park and either sit on the grass or squat. They have very obviously done this their whole lives. What is interesting is that the next and subsequent generations down do not have this ability. They never squat and ground sitting requires a lot of spinal flexion. I don’t have a smart phone but wished I had one a couple of days ago. An elderly gentleman was squatting on a park bench while a couple of his companions sat on the bench opposite. That is completely “normal” behaviour here, but what I found extraordinary was that only the back half of his feet were on the bench. He looked completely at ease and balanced!
My daughter’s husband is in the Army and they were stationed in Korea for 2 years. We visited a few times. Two of their cultural norms are squatting and not wearing shoes. They have a shoe rack at the door so you remove shoes in the house. You even see some folks wearing tennis shoes and stepping on the heel portion. The shoes go on and off so many times a day that it’s bothersome to tie and untie them. The moms at the playground squat to watch their kids. Their knees face the sky and heels are on the ground. When Emily had a water pipe break they called the landlord. He sent out 2 ladies who squatted with towels and buckets and cleaned up several inches of water that ran throughout the entire floor! I agree, it’s so comfortable for folks when you’ve been squatting your entire life.