The Unexpected Benefits Of Massage (Part One:): Constipation

Massage therapist Laney White explains the hidden benefits of massage therapy on the bowel.

Are you sitting comfortably? Because as you are reading this, it is possible that you are either supressing the urge to have a bowel movement or, conversely, straining to do one.

Given that this magazine is often read by people in the smallest room of the house, we won’t be offended if you are in the middle of relieving yourself as you read this blog!

The fact is, if you are straining to have a bowel movement, or even find yourself resisting the urge to have one, too frequently, then you could be constipated.

It’s probably nothing to worry about. Constipation affects most people at least once in their lives. But if you find yourself unable to seek relief on a regular basis, it is not something that should be shrugged off.


Constipation takes many forms. But from a medical perspective, it means having fewer than three bowel movements in a seven day period.

If someone has only one or fewer bowel movements per week, they would be classed as being severely constipated.

Not emptying your bowels enough is the most obvious symptom of being constipated. However, there are others, these include;

  • Stools which are very hard.
  • Problems passing stools, including pain and strain.
  • Not passing enough stools.
  • A feeling that your bowel is not fully empty, even after a bowel movement is completed.


There are many causes of constipation. However, when you speak with your own doctor, they will want to check a few things and ensure that your condition is not acute.

Acute constipation requires immediate medical attention. Constipation is considered acute when it is also accompanied by symptoms such as; bleeding, pain and cramping, vomiting and unplanned weight loss.

If you have any of these symptoms with your constipation it may be more of a cause for concern. In most cases, it is not serious and may be treated at home.

However, in some cases even chronic cases of constipation may have more serious side effects, these can include; hemorrhoids, hernias, IBS, a bowel obstruction and a dependency on laxatives.

Constipation may simply be slow digestive transit of food going through the intestine.

Reasons for this can include; certain medication, not enough fibre in the diet, suppressing bowel movements too frequently, overusing laxatives, a disease of the colon, hormonal reasons, including pregnancy, spinal cord injuries, conditions affecting the nervous system (Parkinson’s etc) and pelvic floor problems.


For cases which are not considered acute, diet and exercise are usually prescribed for the patient.

Increasing the fibrous intake in the diet is the usual advice, as is upping hydration and drinking of water.

Moving more can also help, which is why exercise is recommended. If these don’t help, laxatives can be prescribed for a short term solution.

However, if diet and exercise alone do not bring relief, massage could be considered the next step.


An experienced therapist, like the ones at, can help to alleviate constipation in a patient. Massaging the client’s abdomen gently can soothe the digestive tract and help to improve the natural running of the body.

Some of the techniques a therapist may try include;


This is where pressure is placed just below the navel and large intestine. The pressure is gradually increased to help initiate a bowel movement. The therapist may also do some work on the stomach meridian, which is from the knee to the foot.


Reflexology can be done on points which correlate to the lower back on the foot. They may also work on the hands, where the solar plexus points are to help stimulate the bowel.


Aromatherapy can also be used to assist the treatment of constipation. Try putting six drops of rosemary and thyme oil, with an ounce of carrier oil onto the abdomen and massage it in circular motions.

If your symptoms persist consult your own medical doctor.