If you’re like me, you might sometimes have a problem with complex tasks, like trying to drive an ambulance and send a text message at the same time. But hey, at least most of us have figured out the simplest things that get us through the day, right?
Except, you know, some of the simple things we’ve done every day of our lives, like …
1. Using The Restroom
chances are the pooping facility nearest you is a sitting toilet, a relatively recent invention that flushed its way into mankind’s heart with the advent of indoor plumbing in the 19th century. Indoor plumbing has turned out pretty well for the most part, but the pooping style that came with it definitely has not. Pooping on a modern sitting toilet is a big part of where hemorrhoids come from, and it can also cause diverticular disease, an age-related condition that pretty much only occurs in parts of the world where sitting toilets are used, and which can lead to a range of pleasantries up to and including colonic obstruction. And things aren’t getting better: The last few decades have seen a rise in popularity of “comfort height” toilets that sit two to four inches higher off the ground than older models and that make our pooping predicament even worse.
So how the hell are we meant to do it?
Luckily, there’s a relatively simple way to end this poop dilemma. A 2003 study observed 28 people pooping in three positions: sitting on a high toilet, sitting on a lower one and squatting like they were catchers at a baseball game (catcher’s mitt optional, but encouraged). After initially being mistaken for a German porn company, the researchers found that pooping took about a minute less when done squatting and that participants rated the experience as “easier” (God, we hope they were getting paid). In fact, toilets that require you to squat that way have been the standard for most of human history and are still widely used in the non-Western world.
According to proctologists, “We were not meant to sit on toilets, we were meant to squat in the field.” When you’re in a sitting or standing position, you’re forming an angle between the where the poop is and where the poop’s gotta come out. There’s even a muscle that’s purpose is to tighten things up when we’re sitting or standing to prevent accidents. Squatting straightens out this angle and removes the chokehold.
If the thought of squatting awkwardly on top of your toilet seat isn’t for you, you can produce a similar poop-enhancing angle by resting your feet on a footstool (or anything handy) and leaning the top half of your body forward.
This also ties into my Third World Squat article.
Congratulations: Chances are that if you’re reading this, and you’re not a ghost, you’ve managed to figure out breathing. On the other hand, chances are you’re also doing it wrong.
Take a deep breath right now. We’ll wait. If you’re anything like most people, you raised your shoulders a little and puffed out your chest like a pigeon in heat. You probably don’t see anything wrong with using your chest to breathe, since after all, that’s where your lungs are. What the hell else are you going to use? Your thighs? Well, smartass, it turns out that the muscle you’re supposed to use to breathe, your diaphragm, is under your lungs and closer to your belly.
When upright, most people are habitual chest breathers: We use a shallow form of respiration that makes use of only the top part of the lungs. In reality, most of the blood vessels that take up oxygen are in the bottom, neglected half. Since so much lung power is going to waste, we get less oxygen, and as a result, we’re all breathing more rapidly than nature intended us to. Chest breathing also tends to upset the blood’s oxygen/carbon dioxide balance and can lead to headaches, fatigue, anxiety and even panic attacks. According to one expert, you’re also potentially suffering from sweaty palms, difficulty relaxing, heightened pain perception and general fatigue.
So how the hell are we meant to do it?
It turns out that breathing is one area in which babies are much smarter than you. Babies use a deeper type of respiration called abdominal breathing, which strengthens and makes full use of their diaphragms. It’s only as we grow older that we revert to the more inefficient style. Luckily, you can train your body to go back to breathing properly, and over time, you can even breathe abdominally in yo