The typical defecation position traditional to Western culture could be causing a range of colorectal problems alongside a variety of other disorders associated with the digestive system. Millions of people are afflicted by abdominal complaints and the cause could be the manner in which they sit during bowl movements. Using a foot-stool to adopt a healthier defecation position.

The seated position itself, common throughout western history from at least the time of the Ancient Romans and learned during childhood toilet training, may not be the underlying cause of digestive problems with the angle at which people sit when evacuating their bowels being the true cause of colorectal problems.

90-degrees angle associated with sitting on toilets.

It is common practice in the West to sit on a toilet in a similar fashion to how one sits on a chair, with back straightened and feet on the floor, and it may be this typical defecation posture that is causing such widespread digestive problems amongst the populace. The 90-degrees defecation posture, formed by the bending of the hips and knees at right-angles when sat upright on a pedestal toilet, can cause narrowing of the point at which the anus and rectum are joined which may complicate the passing of stools. The strain placed on the colon by defecating at a narrow anorectal angle can cause both long-term and short-term bowel problems.

Health problems associated with 90-degrees defecation posture.

Narrow anorectal angle caused by sitting in a 90-degrees defecation posture necessitates considerable straining to empty the bowel, around three times more straining than the squatting position common outside of the West.

Using a foot-stool to adopt a healthier defecation position.

Excessive straining during a bowel movement can cause a rectal prolapse in some circumstances as well as life-threatening conditions such as cerebral haemorrhage and myocardial infarction. Other ailments caused or exacerbated by straining the bowel during defecation include constipation, diverticulitis, haemorrhoids and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. There are possible links between excessive straining during bowel movements and colon cancer.

Benefits of the 35-degrees defecation posture.

The squatting defecation posture, usually occurring at a 35-degree angle, that is the cultural norm in many non-Western societies is considered my most health professionals to be a healthier more natural than emptying the bowels in the sitting position. Using a foot-stool to adopt a healthier defecation position.

Advantages of squatting at 35-degrees during defecation stem from decreased strain on the puborectalis muscle and increased anorectal angle allowing stool to pass without obstruction. Less straining results in fewer health issues although it seems unlikely that there will be a shift in the West away from sitting toilets and towards squatting toilets in the not-too-distant future.

Achieving the 35-degrees defecation posture while sitting.

Although the typical sitting toilet is not designed for squatting, being too high and lacking a place to put the feet, with a little innovation it is possible to achieve a squatting position while sitting on a toilet. Leaning forward with the feet on the floor does not have the desired effect but raising the feet until the knees reach around chest-height while leaning slightly forward can get the desired result. This position is best attained with a foot-stool high enough to raise the knees to the desired location thus facilitating the 35-degree angle. While there are commercial models on the market do-it-yourself versions, such as wooden boxes, can suffice.

Spreading the word.

Using a foot-stool while sitting on the toilet may allow Westerners to practice healthier defecation habits while keeping the toilets to which they are accustomed.