Yes, Toilet Squat Stools Are Useful—But You Still Shouldn’t Strain
As far as modern inventions go, toilet stools are pretty useful without being super high-tech. They straighten the angle of your colon, which allows stool to move out of your body easier. In short: Toilet stools can make your bowel movements more seamless. However, Heather Jeffcoat, DPT, pelvic floor therapist and physical therapist of Femina PT in Los Angeles, warns that, even though squat stools might reduce the urge, it's still important not to strain.
According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, toilet stools, clinically referred to as defecation position modification devices (DPMD), positively influenced people's ability to empty their bowels with reduced straining and more ease. However, if you're prone to frequent consipation, Dr. Jeffcoat explains that DPMDs aren't a cure-all, and you may still feel the urge to strain while using your squat stool.
Straining can impact your pelvic floor, a lateral hammock-like group of muscles that sits in your pelvis underneath the organs of your midsection and helps control when and how you pee, poop and even orgasm. "Straining while you go, here and there, isn't necessarily bad, but over time straining during a bowel movement can put you at risk for hemorrhoids or pelvic floor prolapse," says Dr. Jeffcoat. Additionally, when you are positioned with your feet higher off the ground, straining might feel a bit different than it does with your feet on the floor—so you may strain more without realizing it.
Not everyone needs a DPMD to go number two, but it is an excellent option if it makes you feel more comfortable. It's important to remember that straining on or off the toilet stool when you poop is still not ideal for your pelvic floor. "Toilet seats are great for most, but if you have limited hip or knee mobility, it may not put you in a position that is comfortable to use them functionally," says Dr. Jeffcoat. It is entirely possible to have healthy levels of emptying and reduced straining without the stools, but having a DPMD is really a personal preference.
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