How Does Squatting on the Toilet Help with Constipation?

Written by:
Dr. Ashlea Lytle
March 4, 2021

Have you ever heard of the Squatty Potty? Advertised as the Original Bathroom Toilet Stool, the Squatty Potty was invented in 2010 by the Edwards family. After dealing with constipation themselves, they were told to try squatting to pass their bowels. This gave them the idea of the Squatty Potty. Now you are probably wondering: why would squatting help with passing stools? Let’s get an understanding of how digestion and bowel mechanics work.


The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal tract (mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus), liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. Each piece of the digestive system helps break down food to smaller particles or helps move food through the digestive system. The mouth, for instance, is very important as you create an enzyme called amylase to help break down food. If you do not chew your food, amylase does not work as well and your GI system might have to work harder to break down the food you are eating, possibly causing a dysfunction in your digestive system.

The last 2-3 inches of the digestive system is your anus. There are two major muscles that make up the anus: internal and external sphincters. The sphincters play an important role in holding in your stool and keeping you continent. Another muscle that also plays a role in helping you hold in your bowels and is the muscle that makes the Squatty Potty function, is called your puborectalis. It attaches to your pubic bone and is a “U” shaped muscle that goes around the rectum.

When you are standing or sitting normally, the puborectalis muscle pinches off the rectum to help you maintain continence. This muscle relaxes if you position your knees higher than your hips, as per the image below. That’s why the Squatty Potty can help one pass stool, especially if you are constipated or trying to pass a harder stool.


Instead of going around and changing the toilets out in your home to shorter toilets, you can just buy a step stool or Squatty Potty. If you are needing to use a public restroom, I would recommend going up onto your tippy toes and leaning forward. This does not work as well as a step stool, but it is better than your hips at 90 or even 100 degrees of flexion. If you are at a friend’s house or using a toilet that has a movable trash can, place the trash can on its side and place your feet up on that. Ideally the Squatty Potty is the best because it is designed to fit right around your toilet and not take up much space, but any of the other suggestions are better than using nothing.  


Disclaimer:  The author has no vested interest in the Squatty Potty company. The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Need help? We're here for you. Contact us today to request an appointment. Also check out our telehealth offerings to get help from the comfort of your home.

Dr. Ashlea Lytle

VP Mountain Region | Physical Therapist
Ashlea Lytle is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) who has been practicing for over a decade in the Denver area. She specializes in sports, general orthopedics, and pelvic health for adults and kids. She splits her time at Activcore in Castle Rock, CO (located inside Optimal Health Chiropractic) and at Activcore in Greenwood Village, CO (located inside Pilates Denver).
Read more

MORE BLOGS BY AUTHOR

All Blog Posts

How Can Physical Therapy Help My Child with Bedwetting and Daytime Incontinence

Are your kids still having accidents at night? Are they peeing their pants at school? Do they feel embarrassed? Are they missing out on social activities? Urinary incontinence could be normal for their age but there does come a time when children should be dry during both the day and night.

LEARN More

How Can Physical Therapy Help With My Abdominal Pain?

There can be many reasons why someone has abdominal pain. Internal organs, such as your small intestine, colon, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, uterus or ovaries, could be causing your symptoms.

LEARN More

Mechanics For Vaginal Delivery: Is There A Right Way To Push?

I recently gave birth to my 1st child and was blown away that no one actually prepared me for the 2nd stage of labor, aka pushing phase, 10 cm dilation to birth. My husband and I went to several classes to prepare us for our newborn. During these classes they discussed the stages of labor, what tools they could use during labor, reasons for a c-section, joys and challenges of pregnancy, and how to breathe during the first stage of labor to make it through contractions. When I actually went through my 2nd stage of labor, I realized no one ever discussed how to push and breathe during this phase.

LEARN More

How Can A Belly Massage Help My Constipated Child? Learn the "I Love You" Technique.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, I have had more time to practice and critique my I Love You (ILU) massage technique on my 16-month old son, who has been dealing with constipation since he started eating solid foods. I have found there are a few things you really need to do when doing the ILU massage. But before we dive deep into the mechanics, how does the ILU massage technique work?

LEARN More

How Does Squatting on the Toilet Help with Constipation?

Have you ever heard of the Squatty Potty? Advertised as the Original Bathroom Toilet Stool, the Squatty Potty was invented in 2010 by the Edwards family. After dealing with constipation themselves, they were told to try squatting to pass their bowels. This gave them the idea of the Squatty Potty. Now you are probably wondering: why would squatting help with passing stools? Let’s get an understanding of how digestion and bowel mechanics work.

LEARN More

Why Do I Have Troubles Holding in My Stool? I Had No Idea PT Can Help With This!

Do you leak stool with walking, running, or other physical activities? Do you have urgency of your stool and can’t make it to the toilet in time? Do you have to wear disposable underwear because you leak fecal matter?‍ As a pelvic health physical therapist, I see this quite a bit in my practice and everyone always asks the single question: “Why?!!!”

LEARN More

How Can Fiber Help With Constipation?

I’m sure there are a lot of people who can relate to the feeling of constipation. Tummy distended and full; pain in the stomach; a sensation you cannot completely empty your rectum; back pain –– all are symptoms of constipation. We probably have been told to increase our fiber intake and doing so will help loosen our stools. While this is true, there are several things you should know about what type of fiber and how much you should be consuming if you’re trying to improve constipation. 

LEARN More

Treating Constipation with Laxatives: Dependency & Safety in Adults & Children

Ever since I have been treating constipation and bowel dysfunction as a pelvic health physical therapist, I’ve had many clients ask if the laxative they are taking is safe and if they should continue using it, or if they can start their child on a laxative such as Miralax. Many of my clients are afraid they might become dependent and will always have to be on it for their bowels to function. Or they have been told to stop taking it because it is not safe. To have a better understanding of the risk of dependency on a laxative and its safety, let’s first discuss what it actually is, how it works, its side effects, precautions, why you would use it, and the current research on kids taking it.

LEARN More