Constipation relief is one of the more surprising benefits of professional massage.
Difficult, infrequent bowel movements are embarrassing, and struggling with constipation makes life feel like a maze with unexpected dead ends around every corner.
When you’re doubled over in abdominal pain or making another 20-minute restroom pitstop, it makes working, socializing, and getting through your daily activities stressful.
So how can you relieve your constipation at home?
Understanding what healthy bowel movements look like is the first step, and then we’ll walk you through some great natural choices for constipation relief.
What is Chronic Constipation?
One problem that frequently comes up when discussing healthy bowel movements is how often they should occur in the average healthy adult.
Just because you don’t have a bowel movement every day doesn’t technically mean that you’re constipated. Constipation is broadly defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week, painful stool passage, or both.
If this persists for several weeks or longer, you may have chronic constipation. You should always consult with your doctor if your condition continues, worsens, or you have any questions about your treatment plan.
Massage For Constipation: Here’s Why It Works
Relaxing and loosening up tense muscles on a massage table can also improve your pesky toilet trouble? Sounds too good to be true!
But in fact, massage is a natural treatment to manage constipation.
Studies show a link between those who have decreased activity of the parasympathetic (relaxation-inducing) nervous system and those with reduced gastrointestinal motility. In other words, if your nervous system is stuck in “fight or flight” mode, you’re more likely to experience GI problems.
Fortunately, massage activates the parasympathetic nervous system which winds the body down into its “rest and relaxation” state, and may aid in passing stool more comfortably.
Abdominal massage in particular can stimulate peristalsis – the involuntary wavelike movement of smooth muscle tissue that’s required to transmit stool for a bowel movement – and increase bowel movement frequency in constipated people.
In a 2011 analysis of case studies and randomized controlled trials of abdominal massage in the UK, researchers found that abdominal massage improved constipation of a wide variety of causes. According to study authors Dr. Doreen McClurg and Dr. Andrea Lowe-Strong, “Abdominal massage can relieve constipation of various physiological causes by stimulating peristalsis, decreasing colonic transit time and increasing the frequency of bowel movements. It reduces feelings of discomfort and pain, and induces a feeling of relaxation.”
Unlike prescription constipation treatments, abdominal massage has no known side effects and is a proven remedy for constipation. Massage therapists can also teach abdominal self-massage techniques to clients so they can do it at home, adding another layer of relief when time doesn’t allow for a session with a professional massage therapist.
Other Ways To Treat Constipation Naturally
Eat the right foods
Converting to a healthier diet with the right amount of fiber can help alleviate chronic constipation. Just make sure you add the fiber into your diet gradually, and consult with your doctor about the appropriate amount of daily fiber for your personal needs.
Take supplements for a healthy gut
In addition to a balanced diet, some studies indicate that consuming probiotic supplements – beneficial organisms which restore the balance of bacteria within your gut and improve digestion – are another potential aid in reducing constipation episodes.
Some studies show a link between psychological stress due to life events and chronic constipation, particularly constipation as part of a long-term gastrointestinal disorder like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Stress tends to rise to the surface in our bodies one way or another, and reducing stress is a good way to improve your overall health as well as manage your constipation.
Learn to engage the rectal and pelvic floor muscles properly
It’s also important to become more aware of your posture when on the toilet, engaging the rectal and pelvic floor muscles more efficiently. In fact, biofeedback is a treatment with the goal of helping patients do just that, and evidence supports this as a natural treatment for chronic constipation. Some studies even show that biofeedback works better than laxatives to reduce constipation.
Schedule A Massage For Constipation At Home
If commuting to a massage therapy clinic doesn’t sound like a pleasant option when you’re bloated and uncomfortable, you can schedule a massage with a massage therapist from Zeel’s network in the comfort of your own home.
Margo Carroll is a marketing strategist and email funnel copywriter for online business owners. She has worked with many massage therapists and has been featured in Massage magazine, the Massage Business Blueprint and MindBodyGreen. Learn more about Margo at margocaroll.com and on LinkedIn.