Massage for constipation relief can be done at home without any special equipment. It entails applying moderate pressure to the muscles and organs involved in waste elimination.
In the United States, around 16 out of every 100 adults suffer from constipation. While there is no definitive evidence that massage helps with constipation, there is some evidence that it does.
Massage is generally safe and can bring relief and enhance overall well-being, regardless of whether it helps with constipation, so it’s worth a shot.
This article looks at which massage techniques can help with constipation, as well as how to use them.
When to consult a physician
If constipation and associated symptoms are interfering with a person’s everyday life or if they have worries about the condition, they should seek medical help.
If you have constipation and any of the following people, you should see a doctor right away.
- lower back pain
- rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
- inability to pass gas
- unexplained weight loss
- abdominal pain
Massage for constipation
Constipation may be relieved by abdominal massage. Massage therapy has been shown to aid with this condition in small studies. The effects of various types of massage on constipation relief are listed below.
Abdominal massage for constipation relief
According to certain studies, belly massage may aid in the relief of constipation symptoms. Despite the fact that the majority of studies on the subject are tiny, the evidence is generally favourable.
A gadget that simulates manual abdominal massaging is useful in treating slow-transit constipation, according to a 2020 trial involving 37 participants. When the colon does not move waste through the large intestine quickly enough, this occurs.
Another study from 2020 contrasted Thai traditional massage on the court with Senokot, a laxative. Only the fingers, thumbs, and palms are used in this style of Thai massage. The study randomly assigned 40 people with constipation to one of two groups: regular Thai massage or laxatives. Constipation relief, an increase in bowel movements, and complete emptying of the intestines were experienced by both the Thai massage and laxative groups. Massage was found to be a more effective technique of alleviating constipation than laxatives, resulting in more solid, regular feces.
Abdominal massage effectively stimulates bowel movements, according to a 2015 study involving 29 people with constipation. According to the study, a type of massage termed tensegrity massage may be more efficient than traditional abdominal massage at alleviating constipation.
The effects of abdominal massage on 191 people with multiple sclerosis who had constipation and fecal incontinence were studied in a 2018 study. The researchers discovered that abdominal massage improved bowel movement frequency and emptying of the bowels slightly. Participants also stated that they felt better.
How to Massage Your Abdominals
People can try the abdominal massage described in a 2011 Nursing Times review and reproduced by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom to assist reduce constipation. Stroking, effleurage, kneading, and vibrating are the four types of movement. Stool passage through the colon and into the rectum is aided by these strokes.
The individual should lie down with a pillow between his or her knees. Apply massage oil to the abdomen and perform the following steps:
- Stroke: Using a flat hand, stroke a straight line from the base of the abdomen (between the hips) up to the rib cage. Rep 10 times more.
- Stroke: Place both hands at the small of the back, one on each side. Smooth your hands over both hips, down to the pelvis and groin — the point where the thigh bone meets the pelvic. Rep 10 times more.
- Effleurage: With the right hand, make a fist and lay it over the right crotch. Slide the fist up the belly, across the left rib cage, and down the left side of the abdomen. An upside-down “U” is the motion. Slowly repeat for around 10 times or 2 minutes. For further pressure, the left hand might be placed on top of the fist.
- Kneading: Make a fist and place it right below the rib cage on the upper left abdomen. This is a slow-moving process: While moving down the left wall of the abdomen, rotate the wrist roughly 10 times. Rep 10 times more. On the other side, repeat the kneading massage but work from the bottom (right lower groin) to the top.
- Effleurage: Step 3 should be repeated for roughly 2 minutes.
- Vibrations: Place both palms over the center of the abdomen, one hand over the other. While pressing down on the abdomen, make a shaking motion with your hands. Vibrations can aid with gas relief.
People should try to do the massage when they normally have a bowel movement, such as first thing in the morning or when they are able to sit or lie down. This may assist in retraining the body to naturally move stools. According to a synopsis of the technique in the Nursing Times article, people may notice a change within 4 weeks of applying this abdominal massage.
Colon massage for constipation
Massage therapists claim colon massage is a deep abdominal method that stimulates the organs to release gas and pressure, according to anecdotal sources.
According to a 2020 study, daily colon massage can help relieve persistent constipation. The researchers investigated the benefits of a massage apparatus that mimicked the effects of a manual colon massage.
Over the course of 9 weeks, 92 people with persistent constipation were followed. For four weeks, each participant utilized the colon massage device for 20 minutes every day.
There was a considerable increase in bowel movements, increased stool consistency, and decreased use of laxatives and suppositories during the therapy period.
The symptoms of constipation, such as bloating, abdominal pain, and incomplete bowel movements, improved after treatment. A significant improvement in quality of life and overall satisfaction was also noted by participants.
How to perform colon massage
People can give themselves the following massage 20 minutes before they expect to have a bowel movement. Make a sweeping stroke with a flat hand and moderate pressure. The massage will take about 5–7 minutes to finish and will follow the colon’s path:
- Lie flat on your back on the floor.
- Start at the front of the right hip bone on the lower right side of the abdomen and work your way up to underneath the right side of the rib cage.
- Stroke across the lower abdomen from right to left, underneath the rib cage, then down to the lower left side, finishing with an inward stroke toward the centre.
- Five to seven times, repeat this square-like motion.
- Place the hand on the lower right side of the abdomen, push down with moderate pressure, then scoop the hand three to five times in an upward C-shaped stroke.
- Three to five times in each position, repeat the same stroke below the right-hand rib cage, the left-hand rib cage, the lower left side of the abdomen, and the lower center abdomen.
What is constipation?
Constipation is a condition in which a person has difficulty passing stools. Symptoms vary from person to person, but they may include:
- pain when passing a stool
- feeling that not all stools have passed
- fewer than three bowel movements in 1 week
- hard or lumpy stools
Other types of massage for constipation
Constipation can also be relieved by massaging other parts of the body. Some of these strategies are included below, along with any supporting evidence.
Massage of the feet
Researchers studied the effects of foot reflexology massage on constipation among 60 elderly persons in a 2020 study.
Reflexology is a massage technique that stimulates the nervous system by stimulating reflex sites in the body, which then sends messages to glands and organs in other parts of the body. Reflexology can help to balance systems by stimulating or calming specific parts of the body.
The participants were split into two groups: one received reflexology treatment and the other received a foot massage without pressure. For one month, participants received a 30-minute massage three times a week. Researchers discovered that reflexology improved bowel evacuation and reduced the severity of constipation.
How to perform a foot massage
Constipation can be relieved by contacting a reflexologist for a foot massage. Anecdotal sources offer the following strategy for practicing foot reflexology at home:
- Sit in a comfortable position so you can easily reach your feet.
- Massage the feet with your hands using squeezing, kneading, or stroking strokes using an absorbing body lotion or oil.
Hold the ankle with one foot crossed over the opposing knee.
- One hand’s thumb should be placed on the sole.
- Start at the heel and work your way to each toe, using even pressure with a forward, caterpillar-like motion.
- People can also utilize a reflexology chart to figure out which pressure points correspond to which parts of the body, and then press on each point with their thumb. Points on the soles of each foot, for example, correlate to distinct parts of the colon.
- Finish by lightly rubbing your fingertips over and across the entire foot a few times.
- Reverse the procedure for the other foot.
Additional constipation-relieving suggestions
There are various alternative home remedies for constipation that can be used in addition to or instead of massage therapy, including:
- eating more fiber or taking a fiber supplement
- trying osmotic laxatives that help soften stools
- staying well hydrated
- exercising more frequently
- keeping a regular schedule of passing a stool
If constipation clears up after a few weeks of attempting home cures, massage, or dietary modifications, a person may not require medical help.
Constipation is a frequent problem that can be treated well with self-care, dietary changes, and over-the-counter osmotic laxatives.
Massage techniques may aid in constipation relief, however they may not be effective for everyone. If symptoms persist, a person should consult a doctor about treatment options.
Massage treatment may be able to assist a person suffering from constipation in finding relief. Small trials have been done thus far, which may not indicate how beneficial the therapy is in a wider population.
People who want to try massage therapy for constipation can do so safely at home or seek the advice of a massage therapist. People can speak with a doctor about the best ways to avoid chronic constipation and its repercussions.