Chronic Constipation – Can Massage Provide Relief?

Chronic Constipation – Can Massage Provide Relief?

Abdominal massage has been referred to as the “key to unlocking stubborn pain”, and many unrecognizable restrictions that cause and help constipation are often held in this area. ~

Whether it is abdomen distension, tenderness and achiness or simply a feeling of discomfort, the effects of constipation can intrude on your ability to fully participate in activities. It is one of the most common medical issues and it can be supported with massage.

The medical profession defines constipation as having fewer than three bowel movements within a week’s time. More severe versions of the condition suggest less than one per week.

Symptoms of Constipation

The inability to have regular bowel movements can also include passing hard stool infrequently.  It can also manifest as straining or having painful episodes when trying to pass stool.  Sometimes, constipation can feel like a sense of incomplete emptying with a bowel movement.

NOTE:  The subject of this post is focused on relief of chronic, not the acute aspects of the condition. The acute variety that may include rectal bleeding, unexpected weight loss issues, pain and cramps in the abdomen and nausea or vomiting requires immediate consultation with your physician. 

Although constipation is rarely serious, not treating the symptoms for long periods of time can result in more severe medical problems such as bowel obstruction, spastic bowel, haemorrhoids, hernia or unhealthy overuse of laxatives.


Constipation can be the result of a slow digestive process in the intestine or it can more commonly be caused as the process slows down in the colon.  These issues can be the side effect of :

  • medication that are taken (pain, antidepressants, calcium or iron supplements as well as some antacids);
  • chronic habit of suppressing the urge to have a bowel movement;
  • eating a diet that is lacking in fiber that is found in such foods as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains;
  • overuse/dependency on laxatives which can damage the muscles and nerves in the digestive process.
  • Other lesser-known sources of constipation can be hormone imbalance, diseases that affect the colon including diabetes and cancer, spinal or brain dysfunction that affect the central nervous system, and pelvic floor muscle tightness or issues with proper pelvic functioning.

Can Massage Therapy Help? 

The short answer is ‘Yes!’

Massage can help alleviate constipation-related pain and discomfort and can help promote the movement of food through the digestive tract by encouraging peristalsis (the name given to the process of contractions that pushes the food along the digestive tract).

By using kneading and circular motions and a series of downward strokes from the rib cage across the abdomen, the intestines can be stimulated to release and move food through the colon in a more efficient manner.

An additional benefit of this massage is that it strengthens the walls of the colon and promotes loosening fecal matter.  As well, it helps tone stomach muscles.

In the massage therapy session, the use of essential oils such as rosemary, lemon and thyme help support the softening and function of the digestive process.

Massage therapy can be key in creating a more balanced state of health within the digestive tract and colon.  It provides a valuable contribution in restoring proper digestive function and calming the discomfort of constipation.

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