Living with a chronic problem can be frustrating, and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) can be particularly uncomfortable and embarrassing, interfering with a person’s daily life. IBS is a common digestive problem, where many of the symptoms include abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation, and flatulence.
However many experts and health professionals can agree that massage therapy truly helps. Massage can be an incredible intervention for IBS sufferers, as a means of soothing symptoms and ultimately putting the body into a more relaxed state- which many feel decreases their IBS symptoms.
Experts cannot pinpoint exact causes of IBS, but there seem to be three main beliefs:
- One of these appears to be a problem with the messages that the brain sends to the digestive system. The intestines work rhythmically to move food downwards. However, it is believed that in IBS, your digestion may not fit a rhythm.
- Secondly, stress or anxiety may incur IBS symptoms, through chemical imbalances that occur with the normal movement of digestion.
- Thirdly, hormonal changes may interfere with the gut, which might be why the syndrome is more common in women.
If your IBS appears to be aggravated by stress, you should consider massage as a means to relax and calm your mind and body. Regular treatment is significantly more effective than a one-off ‘treat’ if you want to settle symptoms in the long term. There is evidence to suggest that massage therapy can reduce the ‘stress level’ hormone, called cortisol, by an average of 31%. This is a huge amount- showing that massage really can aid the experience of IBS. Therefore, the massage therapy we provide, in Norwich, is an excellent way of helping to reduce stress.
Some studies have noted that people with IBS may have something called ‘viscerosomatic hyperalgesia’ – which is an increased sensitivity to abdomen discomfort and altercations in the brain-to-gut pathway. This links to the belief that IBS sufferers might not have ‘normal’ rhythmic digestive movements.
If you are not in the acute phase of your IBS, gentle abdominal massage could help. A massage therapist will follow the direction of the digestive tract in a clockwise motion. This is the sort of treatment that might remind us of a parent rubbing a baby’s tummy- but it is a wonderful way to relieve adults, too! (It is important not to seek massage or use this motion during diahorrea phases, as the movement could cause irritation.)
Another preferred style of massage for those with IBS is a lower back massage. For many IBS sufferers, the lower back muscles ache, and feel ‘dull’ and tired. A deeper style of massage, such as the one we can offer you here in Norwich, could kneed out your knots and appease this lower back area. This is a welcome way to comfort those aching sensations!
Finally, in regards to hormonal changes possibly interfering with the gut, oestrogen and progesterone could be a cause. These hormones control smooth muscle in your gut, and decide how quickly food will travel through your body, therefore, they could be playing a factor in your IBS.
But how could massage help, here?
Well, massage may not directly intervene with your oestrogen and progesterone levels, but massage absolutely boosts other hormones in your body that will make you feel somewhat ‘better’ and offer you a reprieve and time of relief! One of the main hormones for this is serotonin, which is usually known as the ‘feel good’ hormone. It is believed that 95% of your serotonin levels are found in your gut- so a gentle massage of the abdominal organs absolutely play a vital part in making you feel happy (and therefore less stressed!)
Our Massage Angels, here at the Orange Grove in Norwich, can certainly help and guide you with a thoroughly relaxing and restorative massage that would be suitable for you. If you’re living with IBS: massage helps!