In our eat-on-the-go world, more and more people are having digestion problems, and its no wonder given how degraded and deprived of nutrients many foods have become.  Besides healthier food choices, slowing down and focusing on the chewing process, etc, there are also Chinese massage techniques we can do on ourselves to improve our digestive function.  Whether its diarrhea or constipation, or general pain, these applications of tuina may help.

The first is called kneading (揉法 rou fa). Using the large thenar muscle, i.e.the soft fleshy part at the base of thumb where it becomes the palm, press on a certain point and make small circles on that point keeping the wrist relaxed and flexible. In this technique, the skin moves but the contact point does not. Watch the first part of this video to better understand the movement.

This can be used for abdominal pain, distension, diahrrea, and constipation. Knead along the outer edges of the epigastric area, around the rib area, continuing as low as the middle abdomen.

For diarrhea move counter clockwise, and for constipation go in a clockwise motion; the actual movement from one fixed point to the next is very slow. In total, one circle around the area should take about 90 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.

Another type of kneading using the palm can also be used.  Putting the base of the palm on a fixed point, knead that area.  Again the skin moves, but the contact point does not.

Pressing with thumbAs I introduced in Massage for Headaches and Dizziness, a common technique for stopping pain is pressing (按法 an fa). Using the thumb, middle finger, or three middle fingers, start pressing gently then slowly press deeper/harder, hold for several seconds and then gradually get lighter. This can be used on the upper gastric region to stop pain.

Massage for constipationThe last 2 techniques, I’m sure most people are already familiar with and probably use:  pushing and rubbing.  Using the base of the palm, push with pressure, sliding the palm over abdomen.  Using three middle fingers or the palm, rub in a circle on the surface of the abdomen.

In both cases follow these guidelines: for diarrhea move counter-clockwise, and for constipation go in a clockwise motion.

As a side note, currently my favorite non- massage way to significantly improve digestion is with enzymes, probiotics and prebiotics. The most awesome product that combines all of these is EAZE.  Great stuff!