Trust Your Gut
It's an old proverb and most of us have heard it since we were children. But what do you do when your gut rebels in ways you don't understand?
Many of us suffer from digestive issues in some shape or form. Whether it's food intolerance, stress-related sensitivities or inflammation, sometimes our guts work in ways that don't make sense to us. More and more people are being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, a "diagnosis of exclusion" that just means a collection of symptoms that affect the large intestine. Defined by symptoms like cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation, it is usually brought on by food sensitivities, stress and lifestyle factors such as lack of movement or postural issues.
So what do we do about this? It's hard enough just to find time to feed ourselves, let alone figure out what foods make us feel better and which exacerbate pain and digestion issues.
What a great time to think about abdominal massage! Massage therapy is an amazing modality to treat many of the issues that can manifest in the abdomen, such as stress, constipation, metabolic function and emotional well-being, and isn't always considered as a first line therapy for digestive discomfort. Let me change your mind...
Constipation & Bloating
Folks dealing with IBS symptoms are all too familiar with the feeling of uncomfortable, full bellies. Massage can help to directly move gas and waste through the digestive tract to relieve the discomfort associated with contripation and bloating.
Improve Metabolism & Overall Digestive Function
By regularly treating this area, massage helps to bring blood flow and oxygen to the gastrointestinal tract, which over time leads to a healthier, more active metabolic function. This is especially helpful for individuals with slower metabolisms.
Decrease Stress Levels
Massage therapy in the abdomen will actively release tension in the muscle, viscera and fascia of the area. This decrease in muscular tension can helps reduce cortisol levels, the "stress hormone" that, while necessary, can have adverse effects if it builds up in excess in the blood system.
Increase Emotional Well-Being
The abdomen houses the enteric nervous system, an autonomous functioning system which connects to the central nervous system through the vagus nerve. This system releases up to 30 neurotransmitters and plays a key function in satiety and emotional fulfillment. Massage therapy can help increase the functioning of this nervous system by stimulating the diaphragm, decreasing our heart rates, stimulating the release of digestive enzymes and therefore stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system to help up relax.
Never had massage in your abdomen? You'll be shocked to find out that your low back pain may actually be referred pain from constipation, or that the tightness in your shoulders is your body's way of holding tension from gas and bloating.
Whether you suffer directly from IBS or you're just not sure what's going on with your gut, try working with a registered massage therapist to traverse the unknown - our gut health- and to re-establish that age old trust in your gut.
Get in touch to chat more about how massage could help your digestive troubles or book an appointment with Rowan Nancarrow, RMT by going here.