Think your throne time is droning on?
Researchers out of Ohio State University say a (foot)stool may help those struggling with their stool.
The team found that the utilization of a leg-lifting device during toilet time helped study participants with his or her bowel movements. Nearly 1,000 bowel movements of 50 study participants were tracked – about 70 percent of those occurring with the use of a footstool.
Researchers noted less time was spent on the toilet when individuals used the device, which they correlate with the footstool’s ability to help users assume a squatting position, encouraging bowel movements.
Dr. Kabir Julka, a gastroenterologist with Advocate Medical Group, says the footstool may be a nice, non-pharmacological way to help people out, without any risk or side effects.
“I think this is a reasonable, easy-to-try solution for those with constipation and difficulty emptying with bowel movements,” he says. “There aren’t great studies showing a large benefit, but anecdotally, it seems to help people who feel like they don’t empty completely after a bowel movement.”
Dr. Julka says the benefit of the footstool is that it works to open the colon and allow for more efficient evacuation, which makes sense anatomically. “This might help people who sit on the toilet and strain to move their bowels but don’t have a hard stool – just difficulty passing it.”
“For people who don’t move their bowels regularly and suffer more from a ‘slow’ colon, we typically would recommend relatively straightforward, over-the-counter remedies,” he says. “I don’t find stool softeners to be particularly helpful in my patient population (by the time people reach a gastroenterologist, they usually have a bit more impressive constipation.)”
Dr. Julka says the first line of treatment tends to be fiber supplements like Metamucil or Benefiber.
“If that isn’t helpful, or causes too much bloating, we will move along to something like Miralax, Polyethylene glycol, which is a mild laxative that works well,” he says. “After that, we move into prescription-strength medicines.”
A commercially available footstool was famously featured on ABC’s Shark Tank.