Most of us have faced the uncomfortable feeling of being bloated and constipated at least once in our lives. Having digestive issues can have a negative impact on our health, as nearly 80% of our immune system is in our digestive system. Think of your digestive system as your fuel tank, once it depletes we need to nourish and refill it with the right fuel so that we can properly run. If we neglect it performance issues can occur. Massage is one of the techniques that can assist in keeping the digestive system performing.
Why do we experience digestive issues?
When our body is digesting food, it goes through a process called Peristalsis. This is when our body involuntarily contracts smooth muscles in a wave-like motion to deliver food through our gastrointestinal tract. Peristalsis is the process that allows our digestive tract to work as it should and ensure the nutrients we consume are delivered to our body for proper functionality.
There are a lot of reasons why we can have digestive issues but one of them can be from stress and anxiety. We previously talked about how our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) can cause our gastrointestinal muscles to contract very slowly, which can lead to digestive issues. So by calming down our nervous system we can increase smooth involuntary contractions of our gastrointestinal which can help solve the effects of poor digestion.
How can massage help digestive issues?
Massage therapy can help our digestive issues by promoting our muscles to relax or go into a parasympathetic (relaxed) state. Receiving a full body massage treatment can really help calm down the nervous system which can relieve digestive issues however, receiving a focused abdominal massage can help our digestive system even more.
What is an abdominal massage?
An abdominal massage includes gentle pressure with circular movements in a clockwise direction. These techniques help to manually promote our intestinal flow, following the direction of how our food is passed through our gastrointestinal tract. It can also help relax our oblique muscles to release some tension around our stomach area.
An abdominal massage is also known as Chi Nei Tsang in Eastern Medicine.
We recommend you find a qualified Chi Nei Tsang therapist if you are wanting to experience this treatment.
The most important thing to remember for healthy digestion is to allow your body to be in the rest & digest state (parasympathetic nervous system turned on). To do this ensure you aren’t eating in highly anxious settings, you are taking your time to chew your food and not swishing it down with water (or other fluids). Ensure your breathing is relaxed to assist in the digestion process.
If you are having mild digestion issues a full body relaxation massage may help promote the parasympathetic nervous system to encourage your digestion. For more serious digestive issues we recommend you see a specialist.