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Body, Expert advice
Unheard Health Benefits Of Squatting In The Indian Toilet Position!

Dr. K J Reddy & Dr. K.S. Somasekhar Rao

5 min read


 

Every exercise helps tone UR body but a few positions have extraordinary benefits. Squatting Indian toilet style is one such exercise! Sitting in this position not only helps tone UR thighs, legs and glutes but also enhances UR gut health and eases bowel movements.

The squatting position improves your flexibility and is also a good weight-bearing exercise that helps keep bones strong, says Dr. K J Reddy, Senior Orthopaedic Consultant and Joint Replacement Surgeon, Apollo Hospitals.

According to him, most daily activities only use a maximum of 90 degree flexion at the knee. However, the knee joint is capable of flexion of up to 180 degrees and the joint is not used to its maximum potential frequently.

All the joints in the body have synovial fluid which provide nutrition to the cartilage in the joints. The cartilage depends entirely on this fluid, as it has no blood supply of its own. The fluid acts as a blood substitute for the cartilage. To produce the fluid two factors are required: movement and compression.

If the joint is not going through its full range of movement, nutrition will be compromised due to decreased synovial fluid production. This is what happens with the knee and hip joints – due to the lack of nutrition they start to degenerate at an earlier stage. This proves the importance of keeping active and moving joints to reduce degeneration.

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Squatting involves the full range of movement which helps to get rid of stiffness in joints. The squatting posture also enhances balance. It’s good to practice sitting in the Indian toilet position to make UR back strong. This in turn will help you walk, stand and sit better.

Dr. Reddy recommends squatting for five-ten minutes each day (for those who don’t suffer from any previous knee or back problems). Ensure you don’t take up squatting suddenly, as it can damage the muscles and cartilages around UR knees. If you are fit, then UR knee joint will be able to handle it without any excessive damage. When you squat down, you bend UR knees and stretch UR legs. Every muscle in the legs is used while sitting in this posture. It makes UR leg muscles, hips and calves strong and enhances flexibility.

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The squatting position improves UR flexibility and is also a good weight-bearing exercise that helps keep UR bones strong.


When you squat UR colon is naturally compressed as the weight of UR torso is pushed against UR thighs, says Dr. K.S. Somasekhar Rao, Gastroenterologist & Hepatologist, Apollo Hospitals. Squatting also helps in coordination and strengthening of various pelvic floor muscles and requires you to strain less during defecation.

This may be a taboo subject to discuss, but apparently sitting in the toilet and not squatting, can take a toll on our health. Squatting for defecation may be considered uncivilized but sitting on the toilet not only causes health hazards but also delays the elimination process.

In the past, the royal families of Britain and the incapacitated used pedestal toilets. This practice soon filtered down to the common people and to the people in the third world countries. Many industrialized countries of the world also adopted the chair-like toilet.

Postures adopted for defecation vary according to culture but worldwide, sitting or squatting is most common. Traditional Indian toilets require the squatting position but people in urban India prefer western toilets which require a sitting position. Squatting is a more beneficial posture as it leads to relaxation of the muscles concerned with fecal continence and defecation (puborectalis muscle), thus it widens the recto-anal angle, protects the pelvic nerves from damage due to less straining and offers better and complete elimination.

In the latter part of the 19th century, there was a surge in pelvic diseases linked to the alteration in toilet habits. But the theory that posture during defecation can cause diseases of the bowels was ignored at that time. From the beginning of time, humans have always been squatting to defecate, evident by the fact that children from every culture unconsciously squat for defecation. This is because the human anatomy is naturally designed to function better in this position.

The squatting position is considered to be the most appropriate way to defecate as the abdominal muscles work better and there is total elimination, unlike with the sitting posture whereby the abdominal muscles are not supported leading to health hazards later on.

It seems like the human body is actually designed to eliminate waste while squatting, as sitting makes elimination incomplete and difficult. If you’ve been experiencing bloating, constipation and hemorrhoids, sitting on the toilet may be to blame!

Dr Rao further explains that the squatting posture helps to relax the puborectalis muscle leading to the straightening of the anorectal angle which in turn allows the bowels to eliminate fully. By squatting, the kink – which is at the rectum entry point, is unlocked as the sigmoid colon is lifted. The sigmoid colon is the s-shaped last portion of the large intestine that leads to the rectum. As pressure is taken off from the puborectalis muscle by squatting, incontinence is prevented.

Coordinated movement of multiple abdominal and pelvic muscles results in a normal defecation process. Uncoordinated movement of pelvic floor muscles (Pelvic dyssynergia) is the most common cause of constipation seen in all age groups. Predominantly females after child-bearing age are most affected. The squatting position during defecation is recommended to ease constipation of any type.

Despite the multiple health benefits of squatting in the Indian toilet style, Dr. Reddy warns that before you take up this exercise, it’s good to be mindful of the fact that if this posture is held for too long, it can also cause joint damage and also lead to osteoarthritis, according to some studies. Do things in moderation, make small lifestyle changes and see a drastic difference in UR health.

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