Constipation? This is how Stomach Massage can help!

The normal process of digestion starts when you eat. Then,  food breaks down in your stomach in order to pass through your intestines. After that, the walls of your intestines absorb the nutrients and what remains as waste passes along to your colon and rectum. But, what happens when something goes wrong?

If you have constipation or any other digestive or bowel disorder this blog is for you! Digestive problems (constipation)  affect people around the world. But don´t worry,  some changes in your diet,  lifestyle and bowel massage as your allied you can treat the problem and improve your digestion.

Let´s go deeper.

What is constipation?

Constipation is the slow movement of food sediment through the colon. It leads to increase the absorption of fluids. As a result, it is associated with the accumulation of hard, dry stools in the descending colon. In short, constipation is the difficulty to eliminate stools.

For some people it is painful, you may feel bloated and uncomfortably full or inflamed. In addition, you may feel the need to go to the bathroom without being able to.

Are there types of constipation?

Yes, there are two:

Organic constipation occurs from pathologic conditions like neoplasms, partial intestinal obstructions, spinal cord compression, metabolic and neurological diseases and pharmacological interventions. It often requires medical or pharmacologic treatment. 

Functional constipation is associated with environmental or behavioral factors that affect your gastrointestinal function. 

According to the World Health Organization, there is constipation when fewer than three bowel movements occur per week. It is considered a common gastrointestinal disorder. That is to say that, between 2% to 20% of the general population may experience constipation at some point in their lives. Experts estimate that 15% of the population suffers from chronic constipation resulting in fecal impaction. In other words, non-treated constipation can lead to fecal impaction.

What can cause constipation?

  • The intake of certain medicines like: pain relievers, antacids, and antidepressants.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Poor diet, low in fiber and rich in sugars.
  • Dehydration. Inadequate water intake.
  • Stress.
  • Irregular hours between meals and inability to listen to the biological rhythm.
  • Jet lag.
  • After surgery as side effect from the anesthesia.

On the other hand, certain diseases that affect the function of the pelvic diaphragm muscles and nerves of the colon directly influence bowel movements leading to constipation, some of them are:

  • Diabetes.
  • Cancer.
  •  Parkinson’s.
  • Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Complications from pelvic or colorectal surgery.
  • Neuromuscular dysfunction of the defecation unit.
  • Spinal cord injuries.
  • Others.

Can I massage my stomach to improve bowel movement?

Yes, you can. Abdominal (stomach/belly) massage has been used as a treatment for constipation for many years.
Research shows it can:

  • Increase intestinal motility .
  • Release gases.
  • Relax gastrointestinal canal sphincters. 
  • Reduce colonic transit time.
  • Increase digestive secretions.
  • Relieve pain, inflammation and discomfort.
  • Reduce pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Stimulate the muscle contractions, it increases bowel movements.

Who can get more benefits from a belly massage?

  •  chronic constipation and/or faecal incontinence
  •  neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s
  •  the elderly/immobile
  •  stable spinal injury patients

On the other hand, it´s not suitable for patients with:

  • abdominal wounds of less than 6 weeks
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • spastic colon with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • unstable spinal injuries
  • pregnancy

How to perform self-abdominal massage

  • Lie on your back with pillow under knees.
  • Apply suitable massage oil over your abdominal wall.
  • There are four basic strokes: stroking, effleurage, kneading and vibration.

Step 1 – stroking

Place both your hands at the base of abdomen and with the flats of the hands stroke upwards towards the rib cage. This prepares the muscles for being massaged deeply.
Repeat about 10 times.

Step 2 – stroking

Place both palms of hands on small of back. Move hands forwards over top of hips and down both sides of pelvis towards groin. This stimulates the nerve which controls bowel function.
Repeat about 10 times.

Step 3 – effleurage

Effleurage is applied in a clockwise direction around the presumed course of the large intestine.
Imagine you are trying to squeeze toothpaste out of a tube.

  • Start with right hand in a fist placed in lower right groin. You can add other hand over first for added pressure.
  • Slide the hand up the abdomen towards the ribcage, then across the abdomen and then down the left hand wall. This will assist in propelling faecal matter along the gut.
  • This should be a firm, deep pressure throughout.

Continue for about 2 minutes.

Step 4 – kneading

Start with hand in a fist on upper left abdomen just below ribcage. You can add other hand over
first for added pressure. Perform deep circular movements with wrist as you move down the
‘down pipe’ of the colon. Aim for 8-10 circles as you move down. Repeat from top to bottom
about 10 times.
Now repeat on the other side but starting in right lower groin, circling up the right ‘up pipe’ of
the colon.
Repeat from bottom to top about 10 times.

Step 5 – effleurage

Repeat Step 3.
Continue for about 2 minutes.

Step 6 – vibrations

With one hand over the other, palms down, push down and at same time make small shakes over the abdominal wall.
Repeat about 10 times.

These exercises were taken from:

How can I treat constipation at home?

General treatments for constipation include non-pharmaceuticals, pharmaceuticals and surgery (in extreme cases). However, simple changes in your lifestyle can make a huge difference, for example:

    • Drink enough water. Effervescent water can be even more efficient.
    • Have a healthy and balanced diet.
    • Eat more fiber.
    • Exercise.
    • Coffee and prunes may help.
    • Create a good bowel habit and listen to your own body (go to the bathroom when you need it, don´t wait).

We hope this information is useful for you. If you need advice or have any questions about our treatments, please contact us. You can find us in Mill Hill Broadway and Islington. We are always happy to help. If you like this blog, please share!

We are always happy to help!


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