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The gift of healthy bowel movements

Okay, that was probably not on your Christmas list. Or your kid’s list. But have you ever enjoyed a moment in the bush, “au naturel?” If you’ve ever traveled to a foreign country and found yourself facing a hole in the ground and you don’t have your squat mechanics ready to go, well, you can’t go. I was in Italy a few years ago, hiking the Cinque Terre, and after several hours hiking some pretty steep hills, we made our way into one of the five little towns for lunch and everyone took turns using the convenience, only a few members of our group were horrified to find it wasn’t actually convenient. Meaning, there was nowhere to sit; just two footprints on the floor and a hole. When in Rome…

There have been studies showing that the mechanics of voiding your bowels are optimized in the squat position, and products are available to assist you in this endeavour using the Western toilet. Companies such as Squatty Potty (U.S. – motto: healthy colon: happy life) and Lillipad (N.Z.) manufacture stools to allow the user to raise their feet to the level of the top of the bowl and squat to defecate.

Align-nerds in the Restorative Exercise™ program talk a lot about natural functions like this. We are an odd bunch. But facilitating things that need to come out of your body are all part of a natural existence. Birthing, pooping, vomiting, are all things that can be improved using better alignment. Seriously. Things work better if they are not fighting gravity or maneuvering kinks and bends in the road. Lots of problems associated with a less than optimal experience on the toilet are improved in the squat position (constipation, hemorrhoids are some examples).

So I’ve coveted a Squatty Potty (actually a brand name but fast becoming a generic term for the thing) for a while now, but shipping to Canada has proved prohibitive. If you live in the US you are in luck, shipping is only $10 or so.

Another reason my travel companions were less than thrilled to find the toilet part of the toilet missing is that a good many people don’t practice squatting. They simply don’t have the hip and knee mechanics to facilitate a deep drop like this. So even if they wanted to improve their bathroom experience, they don’t have the ability to do so. Enter Restorative Exercise™ he he.

Squatting is an important part of our protocol. There may be several things limiting your ability to squat without causing injury to your knees and back. You need a good range of motion in your ankle, strength in your posterior thigh and hip to support you and get you back up again, and full range of motion in your hips will allow the movement to spare your spine from flexing. We spend a lot of our time sitting, but we sit in a position where our hips never have to bend beyond 90 degrees. Even our toilets get higher the older we get. This is a case of enabling our disability, rather than addressing it head on. In Restorative Exercise™ we work toward improving our squat mechanics and give you modifications so you can squat correctly to whatever degree you can manage.

Your joints are actually designed to be used this way, to their full range of motion. Using this range of motion will ensure your joints remain healthy for a lifetime. Using a partial range of motion over a long time can result in tight muscles and arthritic joints. Going to the bathroom isn’t the only reason you should squat, but it is an elegant, natural built-in way to ensure that you use your joints to the full range.

So this morning a family friend dropped by with a Christmas present for me. It was wrapped in a garbage bag and I didn’t have a clue what it could be. I’d shown him the Lillipad website several months ago, when he was helping my husband build our porch. I was sure he thought I was off my rocker. He’s an inventor, a craftsman, not to mention a highly regarded architect. So imagine my surprise when I unwrapped the bag and found this:

photo (2)

Hand made! He had fun quizzing house guests over the holidays as to the purpose of his new project. No one guessed right (one person thought it was a shoe shine stand). It is happily installed in my bathroom right now and I’ll spare you the reviews other than to say it is beautifully made and definitely my favourite Christmas present of 2013.

Thanks Jamie 🙂


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