How can massage boost digestion?

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Beat bloating, constipation and more digestive dilemmas with a massage.

A sluggish digestion can leave you suffering from bloating, constipation, indigestion, or trapped wind. But rather than reaching for the Rennie, you can improve it through massage.

Various studies have found that abdominal massage can help relieve constipation, speed up your digestion, beat bloating and ease the abdominal pain associated with digestive complaints. So how does it work?

‘For proper digestion, the stomach needs a healthy blood supply and massage helps speed up the circulation around the body including to the abdomen,’ says massage therapist Giannis.

The stimulation also helps your stomach produce gastric acid and protease pepsin. ‘This is a gastric enzyme which helps your stomach break food down into smaller particles so it can be absorbed properly,’ says Giannis. In turn, this gives your digestion a boost, easing symptoms of indigestion.

But simply rubbing your stomach won’t do. Giannis explains, ‘You need a soft, not a hard, movement that follows the direction of the intestines. For example, the top of your stomach should be massaged right to left, and the left-hand side in a ‘down to up’ motion.’ This mimics the correct flow of your gut, helping to regulate peristalsis – the wave-like contractions that move food along your intestines – and releasing any blockages.

Most therapists tend to use a combination of Swedish massage and deep tissue techniques, but reflexology can also help. In reflexology, areas of the feet are believed to correspond to different parts of the body, so stimulating the areas that belong to the gut can help conquer constipation and constipation symptoms like trapped wind and bloating.

And – honestly – don’t worry if you suddenly need to release any trapped wind during your treatment. ‘It’s not a problem and is just the result of being relaxed,’ says Giannis. ‘It’s completely normal; we are only human after all!’

So whether you want a flat belly, healthy gut or to reboot your digestion, massage can be one of the most effective ways to soothe your stomach.

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