Wolfing down your meal might ease your hunger pains, but it can actually cause another kind of pain-the agony of an upset stomach. While a stomachache can signal a variety of things-from constipation to gas to food poisoning-there's one thing you can do to relieve and prevent tummy troubles: a stomach massage.
Dietitian McKel Hill notes that digestion actually starts in your mouth, and that taking the time to chew your food and truly enjoy each bite in your meal promotes better nutrient absorption. "You can promote better digestion by eating slowly and not wolfing down your food. Taking sips of water in between bites helps your body break down the food and allow it to pass through the oesophagus to your stomach," Hill said on her blog.
But when you're stressed, it can cause inflammation to build up in your gut, resulting in gastrointestinal issues like diarrhoea, constipation, and bloating. Hill also says that stress can cause your abdominal tissues to tense up, which can impede the digestive process.
To help ease indigestion and relax your abdominal muscles so they do their job at breaking down food in your stomach, Hill recommends this two-minute stomach massage before eating a meal. Performing this stomach massage also helps relax your nervous system, so it signals to your gut that it's time to eat. "This belly massage can help you practice breathing and get your body, mind, and gut into 'rest and digest' mode," Hill explains.
How to do an abdominal massage for constipation and indigestion
- Lie on your back on a yoga mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Place both hands on your stomach and massage it in a circular motion with your palms and fingertips. Start clockwise and then counter clockwise.
- Apply gentle pressure to areas that feel tender to you. Move from the left to right side of your abdomen and then along the bottom of your rib cage. Repeat until the tight areas of your abdomen feel relaxed. Be sure to use your breath throughout the massage, deeply inhaling and exhaling.