What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a complex disorder in which the intestines lose their ability to efficiently move their contents. The main symptom of IBS is abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation. Less common symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, depression and anxiety. Stress, diet, emotional factors, hormone levels and medications may trigger symptoms.

IBS is a common condition affecting 10 to 20% of the U.S. population, although only a small fraction seeks medical help.

What causes IBS?

Some studies show that there may be some dysfunction in the brain with regard to the brain-gut axis. Because IBS is commonly accompanied by stress and anxiety, massage therapy can help to ease some of the associated symptoms.

Did you know gentle massage helps on many levels?

Massage is beneficial for individuals suffering from IBS. However, it is important to treat these clients with care especially when working on or near the abdomen. A gentle Swedish massage and even abdominal massage can help to create a sense of balance within the body and mind. Massage works to activate the parasympathetic (rest & digest) response and may help to improve the coordination between the brain and the gut.

What types of massage are beneficial?

There is some evidence that shows that aromatherapy massage may help especially when using relaxing scents such as lavender and peppermint. Swedish massage may help the client to relax but be sure to do only gentle work if symptoms are present and avoid compression directly on the abdomen. Any massage techniques that would involve deep pressure on the abdomen should be avoided, but most other techniques elsewhere may prove relaxing and greatly beneficial.

What can you do?

In addition to seeing your massage therapist on a regular basis, here are some self-care techniques that you can use to maintain a stress-free lifestyle:

  • Get regular exercise
  • Get deep and restful sleep
  • Practice deep breathing exercises or meditate
  • Stretch and move your body especially if you are sitting for prolonged periods of time
  • Make time in your schedule to take time to do things you enjoy, and have a little fun. Life is too short!
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