Self-Massage to Relieve Constipation: it Works!

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If you or someone you love is suffering from chronic constipation, rest assured that Maya Abdominal Therapy and the self-massage we teach can bring relief.

My heart goes out to those who struggle with constipation. In my practice, people express frustration and embarrassment. They talk about pain, pressure, straining, headaches, and crankiness. At the bottom line, there’s a sense of betrayal… of the body not working the way they want it to, and the way they know is healthy.

Abdominal self-massage has been shown to relieve constipation by improving bowel motility. This results in faster colonic transit time and more frequent bowel movements as well as decreased discomfort and pain.

Just as important, the self-massage can bring you back into right relationship with your belly – a prescription for health for the rest of your life. My client Marilyn describes it thus:

My first treatment with Amy left me with a strong sense that Abdominal Therapy could offer a path to healing extreme chronic constipation. Abdominal sensations that I thought had left me forever began to come to life again — with subsequent gut performance (!).

The self-massage feels like coming home to my belly. For me, it begins with focused attention on proper technique. Very soon, it starts to feel like a dialogue, a duel awareness, the feeling of dormant nerves of muscles and organs re-awakening, as if with a hunger for the informed touch which guides them. 

This, in turn, has raised my responsibility to become a better ‘listener’. It is also giving me a growing sense of confidence and trust that healing is happening. I feel a beginning of peristaltic activity!!—and I am overcome with gratitude.

This is a work in progress. My formerly brain-dead intestinal tract is now responding to ever-decreasing doses of herbal laxatives. For anyone who has felt the helplessness of resigning oneself to a life of dependency on saltwater flushes, you can imagine the level of gratitude I’m feeling for having been led to Amy and the Abdominal Therapy techniques.

Learning to listen, feeling aliveness in the belly, and literally getting “in touch” is the beginning of healing. The nerves actually do re-awaken as we increase circulation to the organs and tissues with these simple techniques. 

As you continue the daily practice of self-massage, abdominal muscles relax, the diaphragm softens, and you naturally breathe deeper. The sympathetic nervous system takes a little break from fight or flight. Maybe you even sleep better.

Our self-massage is inspired  by Dr. Rosita Arvigo; it is an essential part of the Abdominal Therapy techniques she developed. The  10-minute routine is rooted in Maya massage practices she learned from traditional healers in Belize during her lengthy apprenticeship there. You can learn the self-massage in one of our Online Classes about digestive health or as part of a professional session with a trained Abdominal Therapy Practitioner.

Add Castor Oil Packs on your belly to cleanse and stimulate the liver and further support elimination. Castor oil increases blood and lymph circulation, which helps rebuild healthy tissue in the gut. It also increases peristalsis – the rhythmic action of the large intestine that moves things on down the line. Find more information here on how to do castor oil packs.

And don’t forget the basics: plenty of fiber and at least 64 ounces of water every day are essential for smooth digestion.

If self-massage and castor oil packs do not relieve your constipation, find a practitioner for professional sessions. An Abdominal Therapy Practitioner will optimize nerve flow to the digestive system with plenty of back, hip, and sacral massage. Many of our practitioners are also acupuncturists or naturopathic physicians.They can advise you on other factors that may be affecting your digestion.

Love your belly back to health! Make abdominal self-massage a daily practice to relieve chronic constipation with your own hands. This simple massage can also help with painful periods, incontinence, immune function, and a host of other problems. Please feel free to contact me for more information.

-Amy Colo and the Abdominal Therapy Collective


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Reference: 2010 the use of Abdominal massage to treat chronic constipation, Marybetts Sinclair