Person massaging stomach in a clockwise fashion to ease the symptoms of IBD.

Gut Massage for Intestinal Pain

It’s holiday vacation time. I’m sitting in a restaurant enjoying an ocean view and finishing a scrumptious seafood meal with my husband when the pain hits. The low rumble, gurgle, and ping of guttural distress signals my brain, "Do something. We need help down here! She’s eaten too much again!"

It’s that common pain from either over-indulging in food or possibly choosing way too many gassy-type edible items. Either way, the pain tends to stop me in my tracks. So, how can someone manage pain when struggling with intestinal issues?

The pangs of intentestinal pain

Over the 3 decades that I’ve struggled with colitis, I stumbled across one technique that helps me during my time of intestinal need. Now, before I share this little tip, please let me state upfront that I’m neither a doctor nor have I researched this technique to know if there’s any truth to it. All I know is that my body tends to respond positively to this strategy that costs absolutely nothing.

What is my pain management secret? Massage therapy.

Somewhere many years ago, I was channel hopping and heard a doctor on television mention that massaging the abdomen can help a person experience easier bowel movements. I briefly watched this physician rub around on his belly as I inwardly mused, "Hmm…I should try that."

As a person who suffers from an IBD, I live, breathe, and experience intestinal pain all the time. But could massaging my belly really help?

How to massage for IBD pain

Because it didn't cost anything to try, I started experimenting by rubbing gently on my stomach. I discovered that a gut massage helped supply some relief of gas pain and even makes bowel movements easier. How do I do this?

  • I usually start on the lower, right side of my abdomen and gently knead my fingers up to just beneath my rib cage.
  • Then, I continue massaging motions across the center of my stomach, staying beneath my ribs.
  • Next, I manipulate my fingers down the left side of my abdomen.
  • Finally, I travel across the center of my gut and return to the starting position. I just keep my fingers moving in a gentle rubbing fashion.

During this whole process, I apply just enough pressure on my gut that feels comfortable to me, and I continue the kneading process in a clockwise motion. In other words, I massage in a complete loop around my belly.

Does gut massage really work?

Is there any medical evidence that gut massages work for pain management? I haven’t a clue. But I do know that people swear by massage therapy for stress relief and numerous other health reasons. So, why wouldn’t gut massages offer the same for one's intestines?

All I know is that I feel better after gently rubbing my belly for a few minutes. This technique is one I turn to every time I feel the pings and dings of gastrointestinal distress. I guess as a self-soothing method, it works by directing pain away from the core of my gut.

Maybe it’s all in my head. Who knows? But I offer this free idea to try the next time you experience any gas pain, bloating, or constipation. See if a little gut massage might help. And if it doesn’t? Well, maybe at least your body will relax a bit under the gentle distraction of a belly rub.

Anything for a happy belly

Back in that ocean-view restaurant, I slowly silenced my intestinal rumblings with this method. Granted, I might have looked a bit odd to others sitting around me, but I didn’t care. Vacations always tend to put life into perspective. A tasty meal, an ocean view, and a belly massage will always rank higher than anyone else’s questioning stare.

Finally, feel free to comment about whether this technique works for you. I always do my best to respond.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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