Why Does China Have Squat Toilets and Does It Make Them Better at Squatting?

Unless you actually have to go, it’s probably not all that often that you think about the toilet. But, did you know that not all toilets are like ours here in the Western world? In many parts of the world, a squat toilet is used. In this article, we will explore what a squat toilet is, who uses them, if they help in a gym setting, and products that can turn a seated toilet in to a squat toilet.

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What is a Squat Toilet?

The name pretty much says it all. A squat toilet is a type of toilet where you have to squat to use the bathroom, instead of sitting on a toilet seat.

Found mainly in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, it is a toilet that is installed on the bathroom floor. Some come with a tank and flushing mechanism, while others are flushed by pouring water in the pan. Most will have footrests on the sides to make squatting a bit easier.

They can be made from materials such as ceramic, stainless steel, and fiberglass. In less affluent countries, they are constructed of concrete and wood.

Why Do China, and Many Other Countries, Use Squat Toilets?

There are two main reasons non-Western cultures use squat toilets. The first being that they are cheaper to build and maintain than a seated toilet.

The other reason these types of toilets are used is they are thought to be cleaner and more hygienic than a seated toilet.

They prevent the body from coming in contact with the toilet seat. Because many cultures are not accustomed to flushing after using the bathroom, or cleaning up after themselves, a squat toilet will help to prevent health issues in countries that have less than ideal sanitation practices or habits.

What are the Benefits of a Squat Toilet?

Besides being more sanitary, squat toilets provide a more natural position for complete elimination of the bowels and bladder. The full squat position allows the legs to push against the stomach, aiding the elimination of solid waste, which can help regulate digestion.

For women, a squat toilet relieves pressure on the uterus, thereby helping to prevent gynecological issues.

A squat toilet also gives opportunity for a bit of exercise every day. Squatting helps improve blood circulation and increase life expectancy.

And lastly, a squat toilet can be more eco-friendly, because they will use water to clean the body in place of toilet paper.

Most Americans Cannot Get into the Squat Position

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In order to do a deep squat, one must have pretty decent ankle flexibility.

Children seem to have no problem doing deep squats. And, in Eastern cultures, they maintain that flexibility in the ankles because they squat all the time.

In Western cultures, we tend to lose that flexibility because we sit more than squat. Body shape also seems to play a role in the ability to squat effectively.

Those with short limbs, big heads, and long torsos will find it easier to maintain balance during a squat.

Our article How to Squat Without a Rack might be beneficial if you struggle with the squat position.

How a Squat Toilet and Doing the “Third World Squat” can Aid in Maintaining Mobility and Help with Squats in the Gym

this is from my trip to Melnik. The way the kid and the cat were looking at each other made me smile by Kristian Pavlov
A third world squat

The third world squat is a full body squat that takes you as low as you can go with your bum resting on your calves, just like you would do using a squat toilet. And with a squat toilet, you are doing this several times a day building your core, and increasing strength and flexibility.

The third world squat is also beneficial in increasing range of motion, keeping hip flexors from shortening, decreasing lower back pain, and allowing the glutes and hamstrings to gain strength.

Because this type of squat is an overall body challenge, it would stand to reason that using a squat toilet multiple times a day could very likely translate into a better squat routine in the gym.

You can learn more about reasons to squat in the article “8 Reasons to Squat”. 

Products for Converting an American Toilet in to a Squat Toilet

The Squatty Potty is probably the most well-known tool for making an American Toilet mimic an Eastern squat toilet.

It is available in several colors: white, black, teak, bamboo, and clear. It also comes in two different sizes.

The seven inch version is nice for those who are less comfortable with the idea of squat toilets.

The nine inch version, however, provides a deeper and more natural squat position for a Western toilet. 

In the End

Just a little meme for you

While generally unfamiliar to Western, and especially American culture, a squat toilet is the way to go in Asian, Middle Eastern, and African nations. 

They have multiple benefits health wise, and they can be very useful in helping you learn to perform deep squats correctly for maximum results.

If a full out squat toilet is not for you, you can always purchase a Squatty Potty to simulate a squat toilet and a give it a go. 

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