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Squatty Potty for beginners

I clearly remember the day the squatty potty became a part of our lives. I went to the bathroom, only to see a strange plastic piece in front of the toilet, with a note: “How about that for a sh**ty gift?”

My husband, a man of humor and love for health, had made the purchase for me. I tried to pretend no feedback was expected over the next few days. There isn’t much poop talk in our home – we have good poops and we aren’t obsessing with impoving them. How about sleep? Or productivity? Let’s talk about something that really needs improving.

Enough poop bragging. I was already sold on the squatty potty – I will take up any chance to move more! A couple extra squats per day – I was in. What I found in the next few days was that my time in the toilet became even faster and elimination felt even easier. I also enjoyed the nice workout for my hip joints. As my legs went up I also got an unexpected massage for my belly. See, when you are “squatting” instead of “sitting” to poo, the mechanics of it all look and feel very different. On the inside, muscles and organs are churning in a new, closer to their natural way.

Check out this fast-gone-viral video from Squatty Potty, which beautifully explains the action of the puborectalis muscle – one responsible for the anchoring of your poo pipes (picture here). You squat – you free up the pipes, you sit – you pinch them. Let the unicorn show you below…

Of course, I was excited we owned a squatty potty and that we were eliminating paleo style, so I was eager to share with my clients and friends. Many of them purchased one, only to come back and complain that they were uncomfortable getting in the “feet up” or “squat position”.

See, our bodies are shaped by the way we move, and if you haven’t been squatting multiple times a day, your squatting parts may be rusty. Doing some basic biomechanics observations, I found that most of my squatty potty averse clients were the ones with limited ankle dorsiflexion (the ability to flex the foot) and quite limited hip flexion (the ability to bring the knee to your chest). Add general lack of mobility through the spine, and you have a never-squat-to-poop scenario.

Here’s the pickle. The average person, pressed by urgency, won’t even stop to think about why they can’t get comfortable on the squatty potty. We live in a culture which has conditioned us to think like that. Today, people plan to get higher toilets as they get older, assuming their ability to squat will keep decreasing. We have it all backwards.

Want the truth?

  1. You can restore your ability to move at the ankles and hips in order to take a human poop. Your organ health depends on it. How about that for motivation?
  2. In order to restore your ability to squat, you need to first start mobilizing your ankles, hips and pelvis.
  3. In order for those small corrective exercises to work, you need to do them daily. You know, just like water works for you when you drink it daily.
  4. Exercises won’t work unless you also start to change the positions you habitually find yourself in (sitting in chair, sitting on couch, sitting in car).

 
 
Like anything simple, it takes some diligence and time, but every time you practice you will get a degree closer to your squat to poop natural design.

Here is the program that I put my aspiring squatty potty athletes on:

  1. They learn the calf stretch, kneeling hip flexion, and strap stretch to improve the mobility of the ankles, hips and knees. Then they use the baby squat and roll to stabilize the new positions.
  2. They sit on the floor – try the V sit, the indian style sit, the cross knee sit. That allows them to take time off chairs and couches – improving their hip mobility as they rest.
  3. I teach them to bolster the squatty potty. We find a comfortable height that their body is willing to bend to and start to use props to allow their body to adapt. See – between squatty potty and floor there are many levels that most people are already able to bend to. Little by little they are able to move their feet higher and get deeper hip flexion.

 

THE CORRECTIVES

 

THE FLOOR SITTING POSITIONS

 

BOLSTERING THE SQUATTY POTTY

Hooked yet? Start on your program to become a Squatty Potty athlete today 🙂 And let me know how you do!

To get a full introduction to this life changing tool, check out this video:

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Can you get off the floor?

Years ago one of my exercise teachers – a physical therapist, was telling a story about a patient he was seeing. They were doing some exercise on the floor. My teacher told him to get up, then turned around to take some notes. When he looked back he expected the dear Sir to be standing, but when he looked down he looked more like a helpless turtle waving arms and legs around, trying to get up and unable to figure out how to do it.

When my teacher asked the patient how long since he’d been on the floor, he admitted it had been more than 35 years, because since his kids grew up, well, there was no reason to go there.

My students know that I recommend couch abstinence (scares the heck out of them, even more than high heel abstinence). It’s not that I have some couch phobia, it’s just that the couch has become your place of passive rest for a large portion of your free time. When you look at your life you probably only get on the floor when you come to do a session with me. In the grand scheme of things this means you are spending a large portion of your day using joint angles and ranges of motion that are the same over and over again and you don’t let your body experience any different.

Why care? Let’s look at your home. If you only cleaned 1/5 of it every day and you clean the same part every day, eventually the rest 4/5 part of your home will become pretty dusty, and will probably start to smell bad too. Noone will want to go there and eventually you will start losing some friends (all the while gaining some dust mites).

Think of your body the same way – when you are only stimulating a small portion of your physical home, other parts of it go dying. In fitness people say: ”use it or lose it”. If you care about the health of your tissues, and the regeneration of every cell, wouldn’t you like for your cells to be getting an equal chance to get blood flow, oxygen, clean out cell waste and get signals from your nervous system? Who wouldn’t want that?

This morning I taught my weekly Move Well class at Athlete’s Choice (you can come and try it free anytime!). The ladies who attended, who I love dearly, had heard me speak at an event two weeks ago, and remembered a study I mentioned about being able to get off the floor relating to health and mortality outcomes.

Below you can see how the study was done, and listen to beautiful Portuguese while enjoying the subtitles!

In the beginning of class I promised we would do some getting up off the floor at the end. What started as guesswork and figuring out which the easier side to get up off was, soon turned into a pretty cool game of getting up. Needless to say, my students were able to learn how to confidently get up.

Note: I am not so sold on the no knee get ups and I do like to use kneeling to get up for a lot of things, especially when mobility is lacking, however the video does provide a great goal for most of us to strive for.

Now you are possibly thinking one of two things: ”I can get off the floor effortlessly, this is not for me!”. I am glad, and I encourage you to keep exploring whole body healthy movement so you can keep improving. Keeping strength to weight ratio appropriate by also learning how to hang. Now if you are finding getting on and off the floor challenging, I urge to you to start exploring your floor.

You can sit on the floor itself or use multiple different cushions and props. It’s ok, just go couch less for a few weeks and write me to tell me how you are doing.  Are you super excited about learning more about this paradigm of loading your body differently? Go here!

Move well, and talk to you soon!

Galya