Constipated? Do This When You Feel Constipated.
Let me share a quick story.
I woke up in the middle of the night from a pain in my gut. It was a vague pain; it was in my lower gut and pressed on my bladder.
I lay there ignoring it, playing gently with the sleep that still hovered in front of me.
No go. The pressure got worse.
I turned over, hoping the shift in position would help dissipate the pressure, and got as comfy as I could, accommodating my legs and head with pillows, setting my covers just so…
Nope. I would have to go to the bathroom.
Here’s the thing…
When you feel constipated, and when you’re over 40, and you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, the manner in which you go to and from the bathroom can determine whether or not you’re going to go right back to sleep, or if you’re going to lie there thinking about everything from the color of your urine to the things you should have said during the water cooler debate you had the day before.
If you don’t go delicately, almost ethereally; if you glide to and from the toilet bowl like an angelic swan, if you don’t accommodate the faint glimmer of sleep that still hangs about your eyes like a gossamer valence…
…then the next four hours is like sitting at a slot machine in Atlantic City with a few rolls of quarters. You feed and feed the sleep machine and you get close, you get so close, but nothing…
…until just five minutes before closing time (in other words: five minute before the alarm is set to go off), when suddenly you fall into a deep jackpot of blissful sleep.
But no! Before your plastic cup of sleep brain can overflow with R.E.M., the clock kicks you, dazed, sick, heavy and confused, into the cold, cruel world!
I HATE insomnia!
So, like I said…
…I had to go to the bathroom.
It was masterful. I tip-toed, I did my business, I washed my hands, I tip-toed back, thinking of nothing but the dream from which I awoke, settled in…
And STILL pain in my gut kept me up!
It was the bread I had the day before.
It had to be.
Every month, my daughter and I will take a Sunday drive somewhere, just to enjoy each other’s company, play music, talk, and clear our heads of everyday events.
This past Sunday, we drove through Rockland County to go upstate.
We stopped at Rockland Bakery so I could show her the wonderland of fresh-baked breads they produce. We picked up an olive loaf, a rye loaf, two sourdough brioche rolls, and two everything bagels with cream cheese.
I don’t do this often. I figured, eh, why not?
You’d think I’d learn by now. WHY haven’t I learned by now???
THIS is “Why not!” I’m lying here in the middle of the night with a war going on in my gut between my good-guy bacteria and bad-guy bacteria, the latter of which has just been rearmed with bagel torpedoes and sourdough grenades!
I have to run interference and get the bread-y weaponry to move through my gut before my bad-guy bacteria can grab it and launch a nuclear attack!
Fortunately, I learned an abdominal massage technique long ago that I knew would help move things along.
Abdominal massage is ancient. There are different techniques, and if done correctly, help relieve constipation and aids in lymphatic drainage, which is important for proper detoxification.
In some cases, certain techniques even help move a baby into proper position for birthing (Google “Webster Technique,” for starters).
Competent and caring chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists learn and practice this technique on clients and patients who need it.
Primary care physicians, nurses, and internal medicine specialists learn a diagnostic technique that helps them feel the condition of the gut so that they can rule out certain conditions like appendicitis, inflamed gall bladder, endometriosis, and other health issues.
I used a modified Diagnostic Technique on myself to help move things along.
How To Massage Your Abdomen:
Okay…here’s what I did.
- Turn onto your back and bend your knees.
- Move both hands to your belly button. Bend your fingers and lean both left and right forefingers against one other.
- Press this finger-unit into your gut just below your belly button. Don’t press until it hurts – just enough so your gut knows you’re there).
- Rotate your fingers as one, in one spot, clockwise, mixing up whatever material is in your intestines with your fingers to get it moving along.
- Lift your hands, keeping them in that finger-unit, and move them a little to the right – about an inch or two. Lower them into your gut and, in a clockwise manner, mix your gut up there.
- Repeat this exercise in an outward-spiral fashion, clockwise, around your belly button as your center point.
- Keep doing this, spiraling outward from the center, until you are mixing the contents of the large intestine along your right pelvic bones, along the right side, below your ribs, down the left side, to your left pelvic bones. Finish up when you can’t get past your left pelvic bones, just inferior to your belly button.
When you get to the problem area, it may be much more tender when you stick your fingers in. Just go more gently, but do get in there, and mix things up.
Repeat the whole thing twice, and get comfy.
If all goes well, you may need to visit the bathroom in a few hours. In my case, the pain subsided in about 15-20 minutes and I dropped off to sleep. I got to take care of business in the morning.
When I talk to my practice members about touching their gut to help move undigested food through, sometimes they’re hesitant to get in there and touch their own bodies. They are worried that they’ll hurt themselves.
It’s your body. Nature made you very resilient. Nature gave us hands for a reason: they fix things.
When you feel constipated, massaging your belly helps. My practice members often report that they go to the bathroom just hours after the massage.
Here’s When You Should Be Concerned:
There’s only one time you should be concerned: if you press in and move things around, your gut hurts worse when you REMOVE your fingers. Doctors call this, “rebound tenderness,” and it could be something for which you want to get your gut checked out.
Otherwise, it’s okay! When you feel constipated, mix up your gut
It’s okay! When you feel constipated, it’s good to stimulate your gut organs like this. It’s better than letting them get stuffed with half-digested material that they have trouble moving themselves. That’s when inflammation sets in, and that’s when trouble can turn into real trouble.
Gut massage helps move things along, which, in turn, can help you sleep. Happy mixing!