Abdominal massage to stimulate bowel movements: Tips & techniques to relieve constipation

Heather Campbell
 min read

Abdominal massage to stimulate bowel movements is a quick, non-invasive and completely free way to help your bowel movements.

Abdominal massage to stimulate bowel movements: Tips & techniques to relieve constipationThis disorder that affects the digestive system can affect overall health and have very painful manifestations.

As a whole, constipation is a major health problems of our time and is mainly due to a sedentary lifestyle and an unbalanced diet rich in fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. An abdominal massage is easy to do, albeit care should be taken to do it properly. It has a great effect on constipation.

Women may also be dealing with other disorders related to menstruation, pregnancy or menopause.

But as a general rule, constipation can hit both men and women and knowing how to give yourself an abdominal massage is a great way of solving the issue.

Abdominal massage to stimulate bowel movements: Introduction

Constipation refers to the difficulty in eliminating fecal matter, resulting in waste retention in the intestine. Going to the bathroom can be very painful.

The lifestyle of developed countries certainly favors the appearance of this disorder in a chronic way which can, in the long run, cause more serious affections.

While you would ideally have a bowel movement after every meal, it is considered normal to have at least one bowel movement a day.

Some tips to relieve constipation

  • Massage the abdomen to facilitate intestinal transit
  • Reduce sources of stress
  • Reduce medication intake whenever possible
  • Chew and eat slowly to aid digestion
  • Do regular exercises to activate the abdominal muscles
  • Organize your schedule and follow a routine so that you don’t have to make sudden changes in your habits and take time to go to the bathroom after each meal
  • Avoid a sedentary lifestyle
  • Drink plenty of water, at least 0.5 gallons per day
  • Apply a heat source to the abdomen for a few minutes
  • Improve your eating habits:
    • Eat a lot more fiber (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc.)
    • Avoid foods that cause flatulence (cauliflower, cabbage, artichoke, etc.)
    • Reduce fat, sugar and heavy or difficult to digest foods
  • Avoid toxic foods such as coffee, tobacco and alcohol

Anatomy of the large intestine

Abdominal massage aims to stimulate the smooth muscle fibers of the large intestine (colon) which is the last part of the digestive tract.

It is divided into three parts:

Ascending colon

The ascending bowel is located in the right lateral region of the abdomen, vertically, and transit is from bottom to top.

Transverse colon

Horizontally, the transversus abdominis is located in the upper abdomen, just below the first ribs. Transit is from right to left.

Descending colon

The descending colon is located in the left lateral region of the abdomen, vertically, and transit is from top to bottom.

Abdominal massage to stimulate bowel movements

The abdominal massage follows the same rules as other therapeutic massages regarding contraindications.

However this part of the body needs a little more attention to detail.

For example, you should not massage a pregnant woman’s belly and you should wait about two hours after eating to perform a massage.

Abdominal massage must be applied with caution because it presses on the muscle wall that protects many important organs.

Nevertheless, one should practice the different techniques with a firm and sure hand to not trigger the abdominal skin reflex.

The best way to do this type of massage safely is to know your anatomy well and learn to recognize the elements you feel under your fingers.

The ideal position to access the abdominal area is lying on your back with your legs slightly bent to help relax the muscles, and you can place a rolled up towel under the knees for this.

Techniques for abdominal massage to stimulate bowel movements

Tapping in circles

The abdominal muscles are tapped with the outstretched fingers of both hands, following the circular path of the intestinal transit, starting with the ascending colon, then the transverse and finally the descending.

Rubbing to empty the ascending colon

This is the turn of the ascending part of the large intestine.

We press with our hands in the lower right region of the abdomen, near the groin. Then, we go up to the upper right region to facilitate the intestinal transit.

Vertical friction

Alternating, one hand after the other presses on the bottom of the sternum in the center of the chest.

Then we go down by rubbing gently to the pubis, along the abdomen.

With the fist, circular rubbing

This massage combines two rotational movements.

The first one is done with the wrist. We rub the belly by describing small circles with the fist.

The second is done with the arm at the same time as the first. We will go through a big circle following the path of the intestinal transit.

We start with the ascending section, then go through the transverse and finally the descending colon.

Rubbing to empty the transverse colon

We will now slide our hands on the middle section. We start the rubbing in the upper right part of the abdomen and finish it in the upper left part.

One after the other, the hands should glide slowly over the skin tissue, pressing gently.

With the thumbs, downward kneading

With alternating circular movements, we will try to push the intestine’s contents, starting as always with the descending colon.

Therefore, the masseur will have to place himself on the left side of the massage table, at the height of the person’s trunk receiving the massage.

The thumbs go down the left side of the abdomen to the groin.

With both hands, deep circular rubbing

We apply both hands simultaneously on the stomach to draw circles.

We start with small circles around the navel, then increase the diameter until we cover the whole abdomen.

We will always follow the same direction, clockwise, which corresponds to that of the intestinal transit.

Point friction on the perimeter of a circle

We now imagine a circle that runs through all parts of the colon, and we press on the many points that form it with the thumb.

On each point, we will maintain pressure for several seconds by carrying out circular friction with the thumb tip, without sliding on the skin.

Circular fist rubbing

This massage combines two rotational movements.

The first one is done with the wrist. We rub the belly by describing small circles with the fist.

The second is done with the arm at the same time as the first. We will go through a big circle following the path of the intestinal transit.

We start with the ascending section, then go through the transverse and finally the descending colon.

Ripple hand movement for constipation

The movement to be applied is an undulatory movement of the hand. The force exerted will pass from the heel of the hand to the fingers, like a caterpillar moving.

In this way, the smooth muscles are kneaded as if they were being pumped out.

We will try to facilitate the emptying of the descending colon first before treating the other two sections of the intestine.

Rubbing to empty the descending colon

The left side of the abdomen is massaged with the palms and fingers spread and relaxed, to facilitate the passage of feces in the last section of the digestive tract.

One hand is slid up and down vertically to the groin.

Transversal thumb kneading

We change position to the right side of the massage table, at the height of the person’s abdomen to be massaged.

And we resume the alternating circular movement of the thumbs starting at the top right.

Upward thumb kneading for ab massage

To finish, without changing sides of the massage table, but by placing yourself at the height of the legs of the person to be massaged, you resume the same massage on the ascending colon.

The thumbs will move up from the right groin along the side of the abdomen.

Abdominal contraction exercises

The contraction of the abdominal muscles is fundamental to have a correct intestinal transit and to be able to expel gas easily.

The following exercises are very simple.

Practiced daily, they help reduce constipation and eliminate flatulence more easily.

Simultaneous flexion of the trunk and legs

While breathing out, we try to bring the knees closer to the trunk in the air, then, we release gradually to return to the ground.

Repeat 12 times.

Upper abdominals with leg support

The starting position is the same, but it is the trunk that we will lift.

The shoulders and upper back are lifted from the floor during the exhalation phase.

You should not bend your neck too much, but rather push towards the ceiling, also looking up.

Repeat 12 times, each time gently lowering to the ground.

Raise the legs bent towards the chest

The starting position will be relaxed, lying on your back, legs bent, and feet supported. Inhale, and while exhaling slowly, raise both knees towards your chest.

We maintain this position for a few seconds, then we slowly go back down to the initial posture. Also to be repeated 12 times in a row.

Abdominal massage to stimulate bowel movements: Conclusion

While it is quite simple to do, this is one part of the body that deserves particular attention to ensure that no physical damage is caused.

It’s a case of easy does it, yet it is surprisingly effective and you can easily become accustomed to the right movement and pressure.

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About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More