Want more comfortable, complete bowel movements? A toilet stool does the trick, study confirms

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The key to a satisfying stool may be, well, a stool of a different kind. A new study finds that using a footstool to prop up your feet while sitting on the toilet helps ensure more comfortable bowel movements and can lead to far less pain for people battling constipation.

You may be familiar with the popular toilet footstool “Squatty Potty,” which earned viral fame after being featured on the hit entrepreneurial show “Shark Tank,” and receiving plugs from Dr. Oz and Howard Stern. The creation turned a Utah family into multimillionaires, with sales reaching more than $33 million in 2017. Researchers from The Ohio State University wanted to know if the device really lived up to the hype and put the concept to the test.

“These toilet stools became popular through things like viral videos and social media, but there was really no medical evidence to show whether or not they are effective,” says Dr. Peter Stanich, assistant professor of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine, in a statement.

For the study, the research team recruited 52 adults and surveyed them regarding their daily bowel movements over a four week period. For the first two weeks, the participants went about their typical business and were asked to report any straining or discomfort for each trip to the bathroom. During the final two weeks, participants were then given the footstool device to use.

The authors found that after using the footstool, 71 percent of participants reported needing less time to complete a bowel movement, and 90 percent felt less straining. And there was a significant increase in bowel emptiness after using the stool. During the first half of the study, researchers recorded a total of 735 bowel movements across the group, compared to just 384 when the footstool was used.

“This study shows that these simple devices can help alleviate symptoms like constipation, bloating and incomplete emptiness and can help people have more comfortable and effective bowel movements,” says Stanich.

Clearly, the change in routine left a good impression on the participants as two-thirds said they’d continue to use the toilet stool.

Why such a dramatic improvement? When we sit on a toilet, the rectum bends, making it harder to have a complete and comfortable bowel movement.

“Propping your feet on a stool changes the angle of your hips to put you in a more optimal squatting position,” says Stanich.

The study was published in The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.