Massage Techniques for Constipation Relief (2023)

What is constipation?

Constipation occurs when your bowel movements become less frequent (fewer than three times per week) or are difficult to pass. This decrease in bowel movements can last for several weeks or longer. Sometimes your stools can be hard and dry.

Constipation is one of the most common digestive problems in the United States. Approximately 16 out of every 100 American adults experience symptoms of constipation, estimates the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Regular massages can relieve constipation by helping you release gas and waste products. They may also help treat any underlying or accompanying conditions. For example, regular massage can reduce stress and in turn reduce pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

Abdominal massages are thought to be especially beneficial for constipation, but you may also find other types of massage help, too.

You can use castor, argan, or coconut oil for these massages. Or experiment with these essential oils for added benefit.

Abdominal massage for constipation relief

(Video) Natural Constipation Relief Through Massage

Research shows abdominal massage can be effective in treating chronic constipation. Studies have found it can:

  • increase the frequency of bowel movements
  • decrease colonic transit time
  • relieve pain and discomfort

Abdominal massage has also been shown to stimulate the muscle contractions that help pass a bowel movement in people with postsurgical ileus. This is a temporary lack of movement of the intestines that can lead to an intestinal obstruction.

Here’s how to massage your abdomen:

  1. Lie on your back and use both hands to put gentle pressure on your abdomen.
  2. Start at the right lower side of your abdomen. Slowly make circles in a clockwise direction using gentle pressure.
  3. Then, use the palm of your right hand to apply gentle pressure to the inside of your hip bone.
  4. Release and apply pressure to the right side, underneath the center of your ribs, and the left side.
  5. Switch to your left hand to apply pressure to the inside of your left hip bone.
  6. Use your fingertips on both hands to press into your abdomen and pull up.
  7. Again, start in the bottom right and move clockwise.

You can repeat any of these steps multiple times, but be careful not to overdo it.

Massages for the colon are sometimes referred to as deep abdominal massage or internal organ massage. Massage practitioners claim that colon massages can be used to:

  • remove gas, blockages, and waste
  • reduce abdominal fluid
  • improve overall digestive health

However, there’s currently no evidence to prove these claims. If you want to try it, here’s how to perform a colon massage:

  1. Sit or lie down with your knees bent so your torso is loose and your belly is soft.
  2. Use your fingertips, knuckles, or the heel of your hand to stroke or apply pressure to your belly.
  3. Massage in the horseshoe shape of your colon.
  4. Start in the lower right corner of your abdominals and move up.
  5. Then massage under the ribs and over to the left, then down the left side, and then into the center.
  6. You can stop and focus on any part that needs extra attention.

There are several other massage options you can use to treat constipation. Massages that focus on other parts of the body may be used alone or combined with other types of massages. This allows for some variety as you check out which options best suit you.

Foot massages (reflexology)

Foot massages, also known as reflexology, may be used to treat constipation.

Research from 2003 found that children with constipation showed symptom improvements after receiving reflexology. The children had six 30-minute sessions over the course of six weeks. The treatment also helped with encopresis, also called fecal soiling.

To do this:

  1. Use your thumb to massage the middle of your right heel, working your way over to the outside edge.
  2. Then move upward toward the middle of your foot.
  3. Massage all the way across the middle of the right foot, then cross over to the left foot. Massage over to the outer edge.
  4. Then massage down along the edge and move inward to the center of the left heel.
  5. Finish by massaging over to the inside of the left foot.

Back massage

Having a back or full-body massage may help relax the entire body. Full-body massages are helpful in improving digestion, relieving stress, and reducing muscle tension. All of these may be beneficial in treating constipation.

You’ll need to have a back massage by a massage therapist or your partner.

Perineal massage

A 2015 study found that perineal self-acupressure paired with standard care was more effective than standard care alone in treating constipation. After doing the massage for four weeks, study participants showed improvements in:

  • bowel function and health
  • well-being
  • constipation-related quality of life

To do this:

  1. Use your first two fingers to press your perineal skin. It’s the area between the anus and either vagina or scrotum.
  2. Push on the skin in the direction of your anus.
  3. Continue pushing in pulses of 3 to 5 seconds each.
  4. You may want to do this massage when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement.

In babies

In babies, tummy massages can be used to:

(Video) How to Relieve Constipation | Reflexology

  • treat constipation
  • promote relaxation
  • reduce stress

Massages can also deepen the bond between you and your baby.

To do this, gently massage your baby’s stomach and lower abdomen in a clockwise direction. Do this a few times throughout the day.

Wait at least 45 minutes after feeding before massaging your baby. If your baby has any underlying conditions, talk to their doctor before trying infant massage.

See a doctor if your child:

  • has stomach or rectal pain that lasts more than one hour
  • is bleeding from the anus
  • has constipation that lasts more than one week
  • has signs of illness, such as vomiting and weakness

In pregnancy

You can have a gentle abdominal massage for constipation while you’re pregnant during the second and third trimesters. Make sure to use soft movements. You can have your partner or a professional perform the massage, or you can do it yourself.

Avoid abdominal massage during the first trimester of pregnancy.

(Video) Colon Massage to Improve Bowel Motility | Brooks Rehabilitation

You can make lifestyle changes to prevent future constipation. Here are some tips:

  • Drink plenty of water and caffeine-free fluids throughout the day.
  • Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning.
  • Include high-fiber foods in your diet, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
  • Stay active and exercise regularly. Try to walk, cycle, or swim a few times per week.
  • Take time for stress-reducing activities, such as meditation, yoga, or listening to binaural beats.

Going more than three days without a bowel movement isn’t considered healthy. If this happens every now and again, it’s usually not a cause for concern.

But see a doctor if you have:

  • severe stomach pain
  • frequent constipation
  • constipation that lasts more than two weeks

You should also see a doctor if you:

  • alternate between having diarrhea and constipation
  • have sudden weight loss
  • notice blood in your stools

Your doctor may prescribe medications or advise you to stop taking certain medications that can cause constipation.

More severe conditions will require a procedure to clear the colon, therapy to retrain the muscles, or surgery.

(Video) Bowel massage | Connect PT

You can treat most mild cases of constipation by making lifestyle changes. Drink plenty of water, exercise often, and increase your fiber intake. You may want to continue having regular massages to prevent constipation in the future.

(Video) Abdominal Massage for Constipation Relief {Things that Make You Go Poo: Part TWO}

Keep an eye on your bowel movements so you notice constipation as soon as it starts. You might also try keeping a food diary so you can see how your diet affects your bowel movements.

FAQs

What massage is good for constipation? ›

Research shows abdominal massage can be effective in treating chronic constipation. Studies have found it can: increase the frequency of bowel movements. decrease colonic transit time.

What point do you press for constipation? ›

The area around and including Sanjiao 6 is the most important for constipation. You can also massage the point next to Sanjaio 6, which is Sanjiao 5, located 2 finger widths from the back of the wrist. Both of them are good for treating stagnation in the large intestine which keeps things from moving.

Where on the foot do you rub for constipation? ›

So it's both feet you'll come up through here you could also do the thumb walking. So you come

How do you relieve constipation quickly? ›

Tips for immediate constipation relief
  1. Take a fiber supplement. ...
  2. Eat foods for constipation relief. ...
  3. Drink a glass of water. ...
  4. Take a laxative stimulant. ...
  5. Take an osmotic laxative. ...
  6. Try a lubricant laxative. ...
  7. Use a stool softener. ...
  8. Try an enema.

Can I massage my stomach to help me poop? ›

Slide the hand up the abdomen towards the ribcage, then across the abdomen and then down the left hand wall. This will assist in propelling faecal matter along the gut. This should be a firm, deep pressure throughout. Continue for about 2 minutes.

How do I completely empty my bowels? ›

How to empty your bowels without straining
  1. Sit on the toilet properly: ...
  2. Brace – allow your stomach muscles to push forwards. ...
  3. With each urge to empty your bowels, repeat the brace.
  4. Keep your mouth slightly open and breathe out. ...
  5. As you finish, pull up your anorectal muscles (the muscles that control your bottom).

How do you manually stimulate a bowel movement? ›

Insert a lubricated finger into the anus. Move it in a circle until the sphincter muscle relaxes. This may take a few minutes. After you have done the stimulation, sit in a normal position for a bowel movement.

How can I stimulate my body to poop? ›

13 Ways To Make Yourself Poop ASAP
  1. Load up on foods with fiber. ...
  2. Or, take a fiber supplement. ...
  3. Drink some coffee—preferably *hot.* ...
  4. Or try a prescription laxative if things get really bad. ...
  5. Try squatting over the toilet when you think you might be ready to go. ...
  6. Give yourself a belly rub.
26 Apr 2022

What part of the foot is connected to the bowel? ›

The small intestines, according to reflexology are connected to the area between the heel and the ball of the foot. Massaging this place leads to a healthier intestinal tract and improved digestion.

How do you permanently cure chronic constipation? ›

Pack your plate with lots of veggies, fruits, and whole grains and don't eat too many low-fiber foods like dairy and meat. our plate with lots of veggies, fruits, and whole grains and don't eat too many low-fiber foods like dairy and meat. Drink more water. Your digestive system needs water to help flush things out.

Does a massage make you have a bowel movement? ›

Some research suggests that abdominal massage may help relieve constipation symptoms.

How can I stimulate my body to poop? ›

Perform stimulation with your finger every day until you start to have a regular pattern of bowel movements. You can also stimulate bowel movements by using a suppository (glycerin or bisacodyl) or a small enema. Some people find it helpful to drink warm prune juice or fruit nectar.

How do I completely empty my bowels? ›

How to empty your bowels without straining
  1. Sit on the toilet properly: ...
  2. Brace – allow your stomach muscles to push forwards. ...
  3. With each urge to empty your bowels, repeat the brace.
  4. Keep your mouth slightly open and breathe out. ...
  5. As you finish, pull up your anorectal muscles (the muscles that control your bottom).

How do you permanently cure chronic constipation? ›

Treatment
  1. Increase your fiber intake. Adding fiber to your diet increases the weight of your stool and speeds its passage through your intestines. ...
  2. Exercise most days of the week. Physical activity increases muscle activity in your intestines. ...
  3. Don't ignore the urge to have a bowel movement.
31 Aug 2021

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