• Emily Reul, PT, DPT

Abdominal Bowel Massage

Constipated? We’ve all been there at some point or another. The abdominal cramps, pain, and discomfort can be hard to manage. There are so many things that can cause constipation like certain medications, inactivity, medical conditions, and more!


There are many different ways to deal with constipation, and sometimes it takes a combination to be successful. Today we are going to focus on one of those ways: the abdominal bowel massage. If you want to learn more about the other ways to treat constipation, you can check out our blog here.


Studies have shown that abdominal bowel massage can help to stimulate the bowels, move poop through the colon faster, and increase the frequency of bowel movements in constipated patients to decrease the pain and discomfort associated with it. (Sinclair, 2011) Abdominal massage has helped many people achieve regular bowel movements.


Regular pooping is very important for pelvic health and general health. Abdominal massage is one tool that may help you achieve that. This method can be great because it is inexpensive and doesn’t require medications or enemas. You can perform this massage on yourself, or even do it for a loved one.


An abdominal bowel massage should not be performed in the following scenarios without special healthcare provider clearance: pregnant people, cancer or tumors, unexplained pain, bleeding, irritated skin, open sores or incisions.

HOW TO PREPARE/SET UP

You may want to be near a toilet so when you get the urge, you can go! Sometimes people feel it immediately, sometimes it takes 20-30 minutes, and sometimes you may not feel anything.


Your nails should be short and smooth.


Find something to use as lubricant, it can be a non-irritating lotion or oil, like coconut oil.


Find a comfortable position. Ideally, you will be laying on a comfortable surface with something (like pillows) under your knees. You want to be able to relax you belly, legs, and the rest of your body while you massage.


THE TECHNIQUE


So now that you’re all set up, how do we perform the massage? We want to perform the massage in the same path that poop moves along the colon.


Find you right hip bone and move your hand inwards slightly (towards your belly button). We will move up along the right side of the abdomen, stopping just before we get to the ribs. Then massage along the ribs from the right to the left. Once we get to the edge of the left side of the rib cage, we will move down along the left side of the abdomen (just like you did on the right.)


As you massage, use a gentle “C” cupping motion with your hand, gently massage the belly moving in semi circles. Visualize “scooping” the poop along the colon. If the poop is backed up