Sports Massage Therapy

Where is the Best Place to Massage for Constipation?

Breeze Academy July 4, 2023
Woman massaging a patient's abdomen

Constipation (passing bowel movements fewer than 3 times per week) is one of the most common digestive problems. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 7 ( and 1 in 3 children) adults in the UK suffer from constipation at any one time. But what if there was a simple solution? It is thought that massage can relieve constipation by helping to release gas and waste products, as well as treating any underlying causes such as stress.

But where is the best place to massage for constipation? Abdominal massages are thought to be particularly beneficial for relieving constipation, however colon massage, foot massage and back massages are also thought to help. In babies, tummy massages can be used and in pregnant women, gentle abdominal massage in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters can be given.

Read on to learn more about massage for constipation with Breeze Academy.

Where Do You Massage to Relieve Constipation?

Regular massage is thought to relieve constipation by helping to relieve gas and waste products. Abdominal massage in particular is thought to be beneficial, although there are a number of places in which massage can be given for constipation. These include:

  • The back
  • The feet
  • The colon
  • The perineum
  • Gentle abdominal massage (for pregnant women)

Learn more about some of these massage techniques for constipation below.

How to Massage the Stomach for Constipation

Research into massage for constipation has shown that abdominal massage may be effective in treating chronic constipation. It may also be effective in:

  • Increasing the frequency of bowel movements
  • Decreasing colonic transit time
  • Relieving pain and discomfort
  • Stimulating muscle contractions that help pass a bowel movement in people with postsurgical ileus.

How to give an abdomen massage for constipation:

  1. Have the client lay on their back and use both hands to put gentle pressure on the abdomen

  2. Starting at the lower right side of the abdomen, slowly make circles in a clockwise direction using gentle pressure

  3. Use the palm of your right hand apply gentle pressure to the inside of the hip bone

  4. Release, then apply pressure to the right side, underneath the centre of the ribs. Repeat on the left side

  5. Switch to your left hand, then repeat steps 3 and 4

  6. Use your fingertips on both hands to press into the abdomen and pull up (you would be positioned towards the client’s chest, looking down their body for this technique)

Each of these techniques can be repeated multiple times as required, but be careful to not overdo it. The client may also perform self-massage at home using these techniques if the problem persists.

Can a Back Massage Help Constipation?

A back (or even a full body massage) can help clients to relax. This is helpful in improving digestion, relieving stress and reducing muscle tension - all of which can contribute to constipation.

Unlike an abdomen massage which can be performed as self-massage, this would need to be performed by a trained Massage Therapist. 

Foot Massage for Constipation

A foot massage, or reflexology, can be used to treat constipation. This may sound surprising, but research has shown that 30 minute foot massages over 6 weeks improved symptoms in children.

How to give a foot massage for constipation:

  1. Use your thumb to massage the middle of the heel, working your way out to the outside edge

  2. Then move upwards towards the middle of the foot

  3. Massage across the middle of the foot, then move on to the opposite foot. Massage over to the outside edge

  4. Massage down the foot along the edge and move inwards to the centre of the heel

  5. Finish by massaging over to the inside of the foot.

Colon Massage for Constipation

Sometimes referred to as a deep abdominal massage, colon massages are used to:

  • Remove gas, blockages and waste
  • Reduce abdominal fluid
  • Improve overall digestive health

How to perform a colon massage:

  1. Have your client lie down with their knees bent so that their torso is loose and stomach soft

  2. Use your fingertips, knuckles or the heel of your hand to  stroke or apply pressure to the stomach

  3. Massage in a horseshoe shape. Start in the lower right corner of the abdomen and move up

  4. Then, massage under the ribs, over to the left, down the left side and into the centre

For Pregnant Women

Contrary to popular belief, pregnant women can have massages, but it must be done by a Massage Therapist trained in pre-natal massage. In most cases, it can only be done in the 2nd and 3rd trimester.

Learn more about massage during pregnancy in our recent blog, Can You Have a Massage When Pregnant?, where we go into more detail about when pregnant women can have a massage, and any areas that should be avoided.

Final Thoughts

Research into massage for constipation is limited, but what does exist tends to support the technique, favouring abdominal massage in particular. It is thought that massage helps to release gas and other waste products as well as relaxing the body and reducing stress - both of which can cause constipation.

Learn more about massage therapy in our Sports Massage Training courses. Curated and delivered by expert clinicians, our courses provide you with everything you need to safely and effectively provide massage to clients. If you’re completely new to massage, take a look at our level 3 course. For those more experienced, our level 4 course may be more suitable.

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