Physics of a Good Poop
All of us have enjoyed poops in the comfort of our or other people’s homes. But some of us are a little bit more adventurous. We have all heard tales of crazy people who like to take dumps in strange or exciting places. Whether it’s on a hike in the woods, in the ocean, or even while skydiving; adventurous people will find a way to build a log cabin. This got me thinking: what are the physics involved to a good poop? We could all benefit from advanced knowledge of this phenomenon. We all do it, after all. It could help to improve our poopsperience all around.
Let’s begin with the basic science. It is most commonly held that it takes about 6 different groups of muscles to poop: the rectal smooth muscle, internal sphincter, external sphincter, expletory thoracic muscles, diaphragm, and abdominal muscles (the last three are breathing muscles that are involved in what is known as the Valsalva maneuver).
It is impossible to lay down a generic figure on how much effort it takes to poop. This depends on three things: composition of the stool, position of the body during the poop, and atmospheric conditions. The atmospheric conditions have the least affect, but they still must be considered. Of the atmospheric conditions, humidity and relative atmospheric pressure have the largest effect on the ease of a poop. Higher humidity allows for the poop to slide out easier. Higher atmospheric pressure causes body organs to swell slightly and for it to be more difficult to pinch one off. However, low atmospheric conditions are usually indicative of storms, and this causes the body to tense up, so in reality, the two are more than likely be at equilibrium with each other. Body position has been a hot item as of late. Whether one should sit or squat is on the mind of all serious health “nuts”. In the eastern parts of the world, it is common to squat, while in the western parts of the world, sitting is the accepted way to do your business.
Sitting provides a sharper angle and simply makes it more difficult to poop. There are many health problems associated with sitting when one poops. These can include constipation, hemorrhoids, colon disease, urinary infections, and pelvic issues.
Physics is a field of science concerned with learning about the physical universe and using that knowledge to create machines and devices that are more efficient and require less maintenance. From a physics standpoint, it is much more efficient on the body to squat while pooping. If you can break the modern culture, I would suggest doing so to become a healthier person.
-Dr. Erwin Schrödingleberry