I never really paid attention to this kind of care, good enough for a handful of weird people : the abdominal self massage ! Until the day I felt that my intestines were painful… Without even touching them, I was already experiencing some pain. Needless to say, massaging them was also painful ! But I started to massage my stomach anyway. And regularly. First very gently because it was sensitive, then more and more deeply when the situation improved. I then discovered that this very simple manipulation can unlock a whole world, and I want to share its secrets with you !
- 1. Abdominal self-massage against constipation
- 2. Unlock stuck feces
- 3. Reduction of anxiety and physiological stress
- 4. Awareness of your inflammations
- 5. Listen to your digestion
- 6. Relieve menstruation with essential oils
- 7. Evacuate farts
- 8. Muscle your fingers
- Practical Guide
It’s clinically proven1, self-massaging the belly helps against constipation. In this situation, the stools are usually a little dry and have difficulty moving forward. Massaging can give a boost to the motor function of the colon and improve the situation !
Still, note that it doesn’t completely replace laxatives2, but it may be added to them. In case of constipation, drink plenty of water and eat fibers (vegetables, plums, etc.).
Many people have a digestion that show no external sign of distress. Digestion seems to go fine, no diarrhea nor constipation… and yet ! During autopsies or during surgical operations, huge amounts of still feces can be discovered, stuck in the colon for a very long time. They get hooked in nooks and they don’t necessarily prevent other chymes (partially digested foods) from passing. But they release toxins, pollute your colon and can be uncomfortable.
If you massage your belly, you can suspect that kind of thing when you feel a clump that seems still or locked over time. You can then try to massage gently every day and try to put them back into circulation. Remember to hydrate yourself and eat fiber.
Japanese researchers5 wanted to analyze the brain activity (via electroencephalograms) of patients undergoing a massage of the abdomen. The results are promising : beyond the experienced effect of relaxation, they could observe an increase of the alpha waves and a decrease of the gamma waves, which scientifically confirms the effect of well being.
I sometimes feel a bit anxious for no reason. I know today that the cause is often located in my intestines, and a 5-minute belly massage is usually enough to restore my serenity ! It’s good to know that the intestines and the brain are linked, but experiencing it is even more fascinating !
Apart from the belly, most massages have a relaxing effect, as evidenced by this American study6 : an average 31 % reduction in cortisol levels, and a 28 % increase in serotonin and 31 % in dopamine (both are neurotransmitters).
Your belly may only talk to you if you dare touching it. At rest, everything goes “apparently” well. But when you massage it, you feel pain. This is nothing normal : you have put your finger (and it is the case to say…) on an inflammation !
The abdominal self-massage thus allows to “question” the intestines and realize what state you really are in.
Nearly all chronic diseases show digestive issues. With the experience of self-massage abdominal, we end up with knowing very well the intestinal journey, and we can then locate exactly where is which meal !
The first indicator is obviously the timeline, but the amount of fibers ingested should also give you an idea of the hardness of the associated chyme. By following it, you can “more” easily (but in real life it isn’t always easy) know what food cause what pain or discomfort. You will also realize that too big meals are often uncomfortable.
Tip : You can swallow some sunflower seeds or corn without chewing them. They will come out intact and you will be able to identify with certainty the meal that comes out. (also works with red quinoa and many other things)
A study7 could show that abdominal massage using essential oils (cinnamon, nails clove, rose and lavender) significantly reduces menstrual bleeding. Mix a few drops of essential oil with almond oil and massage daily during a week before your menstrual period.
It seems stupid, but massage the belly allows to evacuate the gas, and thus reduce the discomfort caused by bloating. I sometimes feel a huge relief ! And farting is fun anyway !
Without even kidding, self-massage belly muscle fingers like crazy ! After a few tens of seconds without stopping, you can already feel that your fingers are tired. So you’ll have to take some breaks.
With time, this practice strongly muscle your fingers ! Once healed, you can go climbing or play the guitar !
Let’s move on to practice. First of all, you need to know where are located your organs in order to know what you are doing. It is also essential to master the chronology of events.
Here are the different stages of digestion :
- The stomach
It reduces food into porridge.
It can last up to 3 or 4 hours , but it depends on the quantity and quality of food. This is for example much faster for fruits and juices (10 to 20 minutes).
- The duodenum
It is part of the small intestine, but it plays a very important role so I separated it : it eliminates the high level of acidity caused by the stomach.
- The small intestine
Measuring 4 to 7 meters8, the transit time is about 4 hours9.
- Ileocecal valve
This valve separates the two intestines and ensures that there is nothing returning from the colon to the small intestine. Indeed, they have a very different flora and this could contaminate the latter.
- The colon
About 1.5 meters long (but much wider than the small intestine), transit time varies between 40 and 60 hours.
Of course, these values are just an indication and vary according to individuals, their state of health, the types of food, etc. The total digestion therefore lasts about 2 days. The more you increase the intake of fruits and vegetables (and therefore fiber), the shorter this time will be (less than 24 hours if you eat constantly very fibrous). Logically, a low fiber diet can take 3 days or more, which isn’t very good for the health of your digestive tract.
You don’t always think about it, but the water has the same path as other foods. The small intestine absorbs the water that you drink, while the colon takes it from the food. Stool hardness and transit time are often linked.
Massage with circular motions, performed with the fingertips. The size of the circles depends on your feeling : make small circles if you target a specific point, larger otherwise. As the fingers get tired quickly, you can stack both hands.
The safest is to go easy. Personally, I massage deep and strong, but it is at my own risk and I take responsibility for it. Our organs are resistant and fragile at the same time. So I let you listen to your body, knowing that I can only advise you to be very gentle and careful (and I’m not a doctor).
Any position is valid, as long as your abdominal muscles are completely relaxed : usually lying on your back or sitting.
If you feel that certain areas are hard to the touch, this may indicate that your chymes are compact, and that you are therefore a little constipated. If you think that is the case, then you can fix it before a real problem can take place : hydrate yourself enough and eat more fiber.
Self-massaging, with experience, let you anticipate this kind of problem early enough, and thus solve problems upstream.
Add the abdominal self-massage into your routine so that it becomes part of your daily life !
You can pick :
- At waking up
- At bedtime
- In the toilet
- Before yoga or meditation (relaxing effect)
- In case of anxiety
- In front of a movie
- Anytime !
Although this can benefit most people, some people should avoid it :
- Pregnant women10
- Wounds, operations or other problems in the abdominal area
Self-massage is a tool that is completely ignored and yet very powerful. It is now part of my daily habits, and I control my stress and my digestion better than ever ! I can only invite you to do the same !
Lie on your back and massage your stomach for barely 5 minutes… So, how did it feel ? Leave me your answer in the comments.
- The Effect of Abdominal Massage on Constipation and Quality of Life.
- Effects of abdominal massage in management of constipation – a randomized controlled trial.
- Abdominal massage for the alleviation of constipation symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis : a randomized controlled feasibility study.
- Abdominal Massage for the Relief of Constipation in People with Parkinson’s : A Qualitative Study.
- Effects of manual lymph drainage for abdomen on the brain activity of subjects with psychological stress
- Cortisol Decreases and Serotonin and Dopamine Increase Following Massage Therapy.
- The Effect of Aromatherapy Abdominal Massage on Alleviating Menstrual Pain in Nursing Students : A Prospective Randomized Cross-Over Study
- Wikipedia : Small intestine
- Wikipedia : human digestion
- Abdominal massage : another cause of maternal mortality.