by Todd Walker
The bus stopped in front of a what appeared to be a service station with one gas pump. My American friend and I stepped off to relieve ourselves midway through our four-hour journey to another Siberian town in the early 90’s.
“Where’s the restroom,” my friend asked since he spoke Russian better than I.
We both headed around the corner of what was left the Soviet era fueling station. There wasn’t a long line waiting to relieve themselves. Here’s why.
What I saw will be hard to believe and offensive to most modern American sensibilities – unless you’ve been there, crapped there. The “Powder Room” consisted of a four-foot wide trench with two wooden slats straddling the bottomless abyss, no running water, and a stench that killed the blow flies before they could belly up to the feast. Contrary to popular belief, it gets hot enough in southern Siberia in July to raise flies in a latrine. One brave native sojourner was perched precariously in a squat position doing his business – no stalls or paper work to finish the job.
“You go ahead,” I told my buddy as I choked back my sudden urge to hurl.
We both decided to man-up, skip the squatty hole, and pray for a speedy journey. However, I did make my #1 reach the pit from the door-less threshold of the Russian roadside restroom.
Sitting is #2
While the facilities were less than desirable, the squatting Russian’s technique I unfortunately witnessed makes my mind flow with questions. Could our western society learn a thing or two about taking a #2. Could it be that we are doing this simple bodily function wrong? I never really considered that there is a wrong way to do this deed.
Without being anal about this issue, I realize I run the risk of becoming the butt of your jokes for writing this story. So be it. I want to eliminate, in one royal flush, the misconception that doing your business on a throne is best. From my research I’ve discovered that our western pattern of elevated pooping is actually number 2 in the world. I guess we all need to get our squat on, huh?
Unless you’re camping in the wilderness or traveling through third world countries as you read this, there’s a really good chance the crapper you use today will be an elevated toilet…thanks to indoor plumbing. Don’t get me wrong here. I love the convenience of running water and sewer lines. My daddy provided for our family by installing, unclogging, and repairing these pipes and fixtures. However, the unintended consequence of modern sitting toilets have been linked to hemorrhoids, chronic constipation, IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), colitis, and even colon cancer.
Getting to the bottom of the issue
It appears that we humans are meant to squat when nature calls. You see, the puborectalis muscle (sphincter) is in a bind when we sit. When doing the squat technique, things flow with less restriction and strain. Folks in the know recommend creating a 35 degree angle between your thighs and torso for proper elimination. Talia Marcheggiani quotes the smart people at Standford in her post about colon health:
According to researchers at Stanford University, the puborectalis muscle, which chokes off the lower end of the rectum, preventing you from eliminating waste, is partially flexed while in a seated position (like when you sit on a modern toilet). This prevents waste from leaving the rectum and prevents you from having a proper bowel movement, leading to straining and constipation.
This doesn’t mean you have to revert to caveman living, takeover you cat’s litter box, or dig latrines in the backyard. You can achieve the desired pooping angle on your sitting toilet by simply elevating your feet. Here’s a new DIY project for the weekend. Fancy is not necessary. A simple stool (no, not that kind) like toddlers use to stand and deliver when they’re going through their rite of passage – using the big boy toilet. A basket or crate could be used. Make sure it’s not flimsy. A collapse could de-throne you.
Not into DIY? Here are some commerically built potty aids:
- Nature’s Platform. For those not afraid of heights. This product is for the squatty purist. They don’t settle for the 35 degree angle achieved by a stool on the floor. They go hardcore with their poop platform. For $144 you can own this nifty perch.
Is there any merit in these methods or only marketing myths?
What do y’all think? Time to log out and delve deeply into the bowels of the issue. Seriously, anyone want to share – anonymously if you wish?