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Sit, Don't Hover, When Using the Toilet

Sit, Don't Hover, When Using the Toilet

You may think you're doing the smart thing when you don't sit down on a public toilet, but you may be unwittingly causing damage to your pelvic floor and pelvic girdle muscles.

Your Body

By Brianne Grogan, for Women's Health Foundation

As a women's health physical therapist, I consider myself an advocate for bladder health and wellness. Thus, I encourage all my patients who "hover" over the toilet—that is, squatting slightly to "hover" over the toilet rather than sitting fully on the toilet while urinating—to stop this habit immediately!

If sanitation is a concern, use a toilet seat liner. If a liner is unavailable, line the toilet seat with toilet paper. Or just take a risk and sit down on the seat. A person's bottom and upper thighs, which are covered most of the day, are usually much cleaner than a person's hands, which we tend to have no problem with during an encounter that requires a handshake. So please, sit and relax.

The problem with "hovering" over the toilet when urinating is that the muscles of your pelvic floor and pelvic girdle (your hip rotators, glutes, back and abs) are extremely tense. This pelvic girdle tension makes it difficult for urine to flow easily, often requiring you to push or "bear down" slightly to make the urine come out quickly.

You may also push to make the urine flow out faster, because it's hard work hovering above the toilet! Your thighs are burning, and you're thinking "let's just hurry this along." Frequent pushing/bearing down to urinate can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse.

Even if you don't push to urinate when "hovering," due to the tension in the pelvic floor and core muscles you may not fully empty your bladder. This can lead to incomplete emptying of the bladder which may ultimately cause increased frequency and urgency of urination, or in extreme cases, may even contribute to increase likelihood of bladder infections.

So, I implore you to sit down and relax. Take a load off. We don't have many opportunities to do so! Use your bathroom breaks as a time for a brief bit of R&R. Your bladder will thank you.

Brianne Grogan is a women's health physical therapist in Portland, Oregon, and the founder of FemFusion Fitness LLC.

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