Can Massage Help With Digestion?

Here is, we’re guessing, a pretty common list of reasons of why you might call up your massage therapist to make an appointment: sore muscles, tight joints, excessive stress, and if you just need a little pampering.  Those are all great reasons, of course, and massage handles each of those things pretty effectively.  However, what about those pesky digestion issues?  Surely massage can’t be effective for that, too?  Contrary to what you might think, it turns out that you can add certain digestive troubles to the long list of reasons why you should go running to the phone to book a massage. 


Ready for your anatomy lesson?  Peristalsis is the act of the muscles of your intestine involuntarily contracting to help the processing and digestion of your food.  There are many things, some of them surprising, that can slow your peristalsis process.  These causes include irritable bowel syndrome, mineral deficiencies, constipation, codeine use, and more.  When this crucial process slows, the results can an unpleasant combination of diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, and other bowel problems.  A full-body massage can help prevent peristalsis by stimulating the motion of the intestine, and its contents, to move along more quickly.  Also, massage helps the body rid itself of toxins, and increases the release of enzymes, both of which are essential for healthy digestion. 


Another digestive problem that we hear about so often from our clients is bloating, and gas that seems excessive.  Our bodies produce gas in two ways; one is by swallowing air (by eating too quickly, drinking from a straw, or chewing gum), and the other is by the bacteria in our large intestine as it helps digest our food.  Some foods will cause gassier results in some people than others, possibly leading to painful cramping and embarrassing sounds and smells.  Also, some people are more prone to gas than others, depending on sensitivity to foods or the presence of gut bacteria.  If you experience what seems to be excessive gas, it might be worthwhile to keep a log of foods you eat, and which ones have gassy outcomes.  While full-body massages are great for many things, abdominal massage in particular can be very helpful in alleviating gas buildup, uncomfortable bloating, and can strengthen the underlying abdominal muscles.


Also, you know that uncomfortable knot you get in your stomach, usually as a result of nervousness or stress?  Abdominal massage can help unknot your tensed-up muscles in your stomach, and make you feel more relaxed overall. 


If you’re a little unsure about how much you will or won’t like adding your abdomen into the full-body experience, you can ask your massage therapist to start slowly, and you can let him or her know if it ends up not being what you want. 


Please note that seeking out massage for digestion issues is not to be a substitute for the advice and care of a doctor.  If you have talked with a medical professional, and are very certain that you do not have a more serious underlying medical issue, then massage can be a great tool to help expel your stomach and gut of toxins and excessive gas, and also to help speed up your peristalsis, making you feel a whole lot more comfortable. 

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