When massage comes to mind, the first thing most people think of is probably easing aches and pains in the muscles of the body. You might be surprised to learn that massage can also be an effective treatment for digestive disorders, like constipation, bloating or gas, and even irritable bowel syndrome. If you're having problems with your digestion, read on to learn how massage might be able to help.

How Digestion Works

Digestion may seem like a relatively automatic process, but in reality, the body moves food and waste products through itself by contracting the muscles that surround the intestines and colon. In some cases, however, these muscles may not contract properly, causing discomfort or digestion issues. For example, if the contractions are too shallow and rapid, they may cause sharp pains in the abdomen. The contractions could also simply not occur as frequently as they should, resulting in a backup in the intestines or colon, as waste matter doesn't evacuate the body as quickly as it should. 

How Massage Can Help

Massage can help the digestive process just like soothing the aches and pains of any other part of the body. Almost all forms of massage focus on gently kneading, rubbing, or stretching the muscles to help them to relax, stop abnormally contracting, and to ease pain. These same methods can be applied to the abdomen, which can help to effectively reset the muscles, allowing them to return to a more natural pattern of contraction and relaxation.

In addition, massage can help to move things along if you're suffering from constipation. Massage therapists can often actually feel the blockages in the intestines, and can use gentle pressure to help dislodge the blockages and get things moving again.

Methods Of Massage To Try

While almost all forms of massage can be applied to the abdomen to reap some benefits, there are a few in particular that may be helpful to you:

  • Swedish Massage - Swedish massage uses gentle pressure on muscle groups to ease tension. This gentle pressure can also be applied to help ease constipation.
  • Trigger Point Massage - Trigger point massage is somewhat similar to acupressure, in that it uses constant, gentle pressure to ease muscle spasms. This variety of massage may be especially beneficial if you're experiencing abdominal cramps and pain.
  • Chi Nei Tsang - Chi Nei Tsang is a traditional Chinese massage method that's only used on the abdomen. This method not only helps with cramps, constipation, and other digestive problems but is said to help to strengthen immunity and circulation.

A therapeutic massage may not be the first thing you think of when you're having digestive problems, but it can be one of the most gentle and effective methods of directly treating the problem without medication. If you're experiencing digestion difficulty or abdominal pain, try visiting a massage therapist for help.