Your time on the toilet is sacred. It’s an escape from the hustle and bustle when you can ponder life’s deepest questions, scroll mindlessly through TikTok, and everything in between. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has a way of reminding us that we can’t sit on the throne indefinitely: paresthesia.
That might sound terrifying, but it’s just a fancy scientific term for your legs and feet falling asleep.
When you lose track of time on the john, it’s common to feel a tingly “pins and needles” sensation in your lower extremities. This is a very common phenomenon, albeit an inconvenient one. So why exactly do your legs and feet go numb when you go number two?
Why Do Your Legs Fall Asleep on the Toilet?
Sitting and pooping may seem intuitive, but if your legs and feet fall asleep when you do your biz, you’re probably making these mistakes:
1. You’re Straining Too Hard
Pushing hard during a bowel movement puts pressure on your spinal column. This is called “intrathecal pressure.” The extra pressure can cause the discs in your spine to push against the spinal nerves, leading to numbness, weakness, or a tingling sensation in the feet and legs.
Needless to say, constipation and paresthesia go hand-in-hand.
2. Your Posture Isn’t Up to Par
Poor posture is the other common cause of legs falling asleep on the toilet. For example, hunching forward restricts blood flow to your pelvic nerves, which extend down your legs all the way to your toes. If that happens for more than 15 minutes, you might lose sensation in your legs or feet. It’s the same thing that happens when you fall asleep on your arm and wake up with numbness.
If you’re a particularly skinny guy, your feet are even more likely to fall asleep if you sit on the toilet for a long time. That’s because the blood vessels in your legs are cushioned by body fat, which prevents them from getting compressed when you sit. Less cushion means more nerve compression, hence your tingling toes.
Is It Bad If Your Legs Fall Asleep On the Toilet?
Temporary numbness in your legs or feet while sitting on the toilet is normal and doesn’t warrant medical attention. The sensation will go away in a few minutes after you move around and restore blood circulation in your legs.
If you experience persistent numbness, weakness, or burning sensation in your lower extremities, you may have a medical condition that requires treatment. These are a few issues that can decrease sensation in the legs or feet:
- Pinched nerve: pressure on a spinal nerve can cause chronic tingling, aches, or a burning sensation that radiates outward
- Neuropathy: this refers to damage to nerves, leading to numbness, weakness, or tingling in the affected area
- Multiple Sclerosis: this disease which impacts the brain and nervous system has many symptoms, one of which is numbness in the arms and legs
Bottom line: if your legs and feet only feel weird when you’re on the toilet, you’re probably in the clear.
3 Hacks to Stop Your Legs From Falling Asleep On the Toilet
Don’t let pins and needles ruin an otherwise peaceful poo session. Follow these three tips to prevent your legs from falling asleep:
1. Shift Your Position Every Few Minutes
Changing positions prevents your blood flow from getting restricted. You don’t need to do anything crazy here, just shift your butt every few minutes, scoot around, or lift your legs—anything except sitting still for 10+ minutes.
2. Limit Your Poops to 15 Minutes
Straining and sitting for an extended period of time is a perfect storm for sleepy legs. If nothing comes out after 15 minutes, throw in the towel and try again later. In addition to putting stress on your spine, pushing too hard can cause hemorrhoids or tiny tears in your butt hole.
If you’re dealing with chronic constipation, try these exercises and make sure you’re consuming plenty of fiber and water to loosen up your stool.
3. Try a Toilet Cushion
A padded toilet seat or an “air doughnut” looks like a mini pool inflatable. It takes the pressure off your pelvic region while sitting and can improve blood flow to your legs. These are traditionally used to make sitting easier for people with tailbone injuries or sciatica, but nobody’s stopping you from using it to improve your daily deuce. You can grab one for about $15 on Amazon.
Make Pooping Pleasurable
Aside from your legs falling asleep on the toilet, there’s one thing that can ruin an otherwise peaceful bowel movement: toilet paper. This glorified sandpaper is notorious for causing chapped rears, not to mention it doesn’t clean your nether regions—it just smears the gunk around.
If you want to maximize your pleasure on the throne, follow the above tips to stop your legs from falling asleep—and most importantly, ditch your two-ply for a pack of flushable wipes. Your butt will thank you later.