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February 2016

Squatty Potty and Functional Constipation or Encopresis

The Squatty Potty is a footstool for children and adults which elevates your feet while sitting on the toilet. The footstool changes your posture so as to more closely approximate squatting than sitting. It comes in both 7" and 9" tall versions.

Squatting is thought by many GI doctors to be the most natural and efficacious position for defecation. I agree. In the squat position, the angle between the rectum and the anal canal is wider/straighter than it is in the sitting position thus allowing stool to pass through with less effort/straining.

How does this relate to functional constipation/encopresis)?

In my book, The Ins and Outs of Poop, I talk about how one or more uncomfortable or painful bowel movements can cause a child to begin to withhold stool whenever she or he feels urgency so as to avoid another uncomfortable or painful bowel movement. Unfortunately, withholding can become a conditioned or habitual response to the feeling of urgency which almost inevitably leads to functional constipation aka encopresis. 

The key to preventing functional constipation is to act quickly with natural remedies when your child has occasional constipation in order to keep his or her stool soft and the need for pushing/straining at a minimum.

In my opinion, the use of a higher than normal footstool such as a Squatty Potty should be thought of as one of the natural remedies for occasional constipation along with more common remedies such as increased fiber and exercise. Footstools like the Squatty Potty may also be of help in the long-term treatment of encopresis.