Now more than ever, people in Western society suffer from symptoms of poor digestive health. Conditions range from food intolerances through stomach ulcers, to irritable bowel syndrome. Even those in full health have likely encountered symptoms of poor digestive health such as bloating, trapped wind, acid reflux, and constipation. Firstly this post aims to explore the link between stress and digestion. It will then outline how the Reset Digestive Health massage treatment can aid digestion.
Digestion and Gut Feelings
The stomach and the mind are deeply connected. In language we commonly describe our emotions in relation to the gut. In biology, the connection is called the gut-brain axis. This describes the bidirectional communication between the stomach and the brain. The gut-brain axis uses hormones, immune cells, and the ANS (part of the nervous system) to send messages BOTH ways.
The ANS is divided into 2 opposing parts – the fight or flight system, and the rest and digest system. Potential threats to survival (stressors) trigger fight or flight, which shuts down processes that aren’t essential for immediate survival. As a result, more energy is available to help our ancestors escape from predators!
The ANS doesn’t deem digestion as essential for short-term survival. Consequently, our digestive systems are vulnerable and slow down when we are stressed. Unfortunately, modern day stressors tend to be more chronic than a predator attack. Hence, effects on the gut can be more long-term.
Why Does This Matter?
Many people hold stress and tension in their jaw. Certainly, some people even continue to clench and grind while they sleep! This can lead to jaw fatigue and clicking when chewing. Sometimes it may also cause tension headaches.
Further into the digestive system, food is broken down by mechanical and chemical digestion. The small intestine contains rings of smooth muscle, which contract alternately to mix food with stomach juices. Similarly, it is lined with longitudinal smooth muscle to squeeze the contents along the intestines. This is known as peristalsis.
Food takes longer to exit the system when stress (or other factors) slow peristalsis down. Sometimes this results in constipation or feeling unable to empty ones bowels. Similarly, when mechanical digestion slows food lingers in the gut longer. As a result, it begins to ferment within the intestines creating gas as a waste product. This may lead to bloating or trapped wind.
Reset Your Digestive Health
Self abdominal massage is one of my go-to self care tools when I am feeling stressed. The treatment helps me to relax. Simultaneously, it takes care of my digestive system. Hence I designed the Reset Digestive Health massage treatment!
Each feature of the Reset Digestive Health Massage targets a specific aspect of digestion. Superficial fascial techniques and deeper abdominal massage manually aids and stimulates peristalsis. Fascial work also encourages local circulation. For this part of the treatment you can lie on your back. Alternatively, you may prefer to be on a slight incline if you suffer with acid reflux.
In addition your therapist may address the muscles around your jaw, especially if you are a jaw clencher! This can help to reduce feelings of tension and tightness, and reduce clicking. Furthermore your treatment will end with relaxation, typically including massage techniques around the scalp, neck, and shoulders.
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We describe our emotions using the stomach!
- “Gut feelings”
- “Butterflies in my stomach”
- “My stomach sank”
- “I felt it in the pit of my stomach”
- “Gut-wrenching decision”
The Reset Digestive Health massage can help with:
- Trapped wind,
- Acid reflux,
- Clicking jaws,
- Jaw tension / tension headaches,
- Period pain,
- Abdominal muscle cramps/spasms
*Please note that severe or sudden abdominal pain can be serious. Therefore it should always be investigated by a medical professional. For this reason your therapist may ask for consent from your doctor before the session.
** Massage therapy is inappropriate for those suffering from viral or bacterial infections. This includes stomach bugs and food poisoning. Therefore you may be asked to rearrange if we suspect this.