Reflexology For Constipation

Reflexology is a holistic treatment that can help individuals to significantly unwind and feel more at ease in their day-to-day life, targeting specific problems that the person in question may be suffering with.

Stress management in people’s everyday lives can help them achieve a healthier lifestyle while increasing resilience, and reflexology can aid this process, along with being useful for many other health issues.

Overall, it is a form of touch therapy based on the premise that receptors on the feet, hands, legs, and face are connected to other parts of the body, and that by manipulating these areas, reflexologists can aid the healing process of certain health issues that the individual may be suffering with.

According to the concept of reflexology, all of the systems in the body are paralleled and influenced in smaller, exterior parts of the body. Studies into this theory began back in the early 20th century, leading to the creation of the initial Western reflexology foot map.

Other parts of the body have since been identified and added, enabling similar concepts to be adapted to the hands and face as well as feet.

Reflexology specialists merely massage the specific parts of the body with their fingertips, intending to restore balance to those areas, thus assisting the body in functioning as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Reflexology is a very individualistic experience, as every person’s body is different, but generally, the reflective areas are in the same places.

Although there is not a lot of scientific research around how reflexology works explicitly, there are medical studies suggesting the positive outcomes, and many benefits, that can be accomplished through the use of touch.

What Causes Constipation?

Irregular bowel motions or difficulty passing stools that lasts for several weeks or longer is what is commonly referred to as ‘constipation’. Those who suffer with this issue may have fewer than three bowel movements per week.

While it is common for most individuals to experience difficulty passing hard stools at some point in their lives, it is considered to be constipation, or chronic constipation, if the person experiences the following symptoms for a certain number of weeks:

  • Having to strain while passing stools.
  • Passing firm, lumpy, dark colored stools.
  • Requiring assistance to clear your rectum, e.g. having to press down onto your stomach with your hands and/or physically having to remove faeces with your fingers.
  • Feeling as if your rectum is obstructed, restricting your ability to make bowel movements.

If these symptoms have lasted longer than a week or two, you should contact your doctor to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Constipation is often a side effect caused by poor diets, e.g. not receiving enough fiber or liquids, being physically inactive and/or overweight, using drugs such as narcotics or certain antidepressants, and/or not going to the toilet to release stools when needed.

It could also be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Hypothyroidism, or, in rarer cases, certain forms of colon cancer.

Constipation is mostly common in children and elderly adults, but can also affect adults of any age.

Foot Reflexology For Constipation

foot reflexology

One of the forms of reflexology that is most useful for aiding those suffering from constipation is foot reflexology.

A clinical study was undertaken at a private nursing home in the province of Ankara, testing the effects that foot reflexology had on those suffering with constipation.

At the nursing home, 60 elderly residents were randomly allocated to one of two groups: experimental or control.

The experimental group received foot reflexology massage three times a week for 30 minutes on the patient’s right foot for one month. Effleurage was used to relax the foot initially, followed by shaking, rotation, and stretching techniques.

Applying solar plexus pressure to both feet brought the session to a close. A foot surface massage without pressure was used on the residents in the control group to imitate the procedures used in the experimental group.

As a result, the experimental group’s frequency of clearing bowels on alternate days rose when reflexology was applied, whereas the control group’s rate did not.

Reflexology was demonstrated to not only improve the elderly’s quality of life, but to also reduce the severity of constipation.

In conclusion, the use of reflexology on feet was proven effective, relieving the residents’s obstructed bowels.

As previously mentioned, elderly adults are generally more likely to suffer from constipation, along with young children, compared to the many ages in between.

Many other studies have also proven that foot reflexology has a positive effect on those suffering from constipation, revealing that there must be a correlation between specific areas of the feet and the bowel, intestines and stomach.

These specific areas can be discovered on the foot reflexology chart (displayed and labeled on the diagram at the start of this section.)

Hand Reflexology For Constipation

hand reflexology

When it comes to using reflexology to help those suffering with constipation, it is usually foot reflexology that is commonly used. However, there are studies that show that hand reflexology can be just as successful when used on patients.

For the best results, it has been suggested that the hands are given a light, general massage beforehand to loosen up the joints. Then, the massage should be followed up with a massage along the specific reflexology points that target the stomach and intestines (displayed and labeled on the diagram above).

The best results have been achieved while the patient takes deep breaths during the process, and while sweeping each specific reflexology point slowly and gently.

Final Thoughts

Constipation alleviation using reflexology can be a complete game changer, especially if you are more prone to experiencing these symptoms throughout your life. If you have never tried reflexology, it is definitely recommended that you give it a go.

As we mentioned previously, however, you should contact your doctor for medical advice if you are experiencing extreme pain and discomfort, or you have not been able to relieve your bowels for several days in a row.


Author: P. Sze

P. Sze P. Sze is the founder of TCM Tips and Dragon Acupuncture®. She graduated from the National University of Singapore with a first-class honor in Civil Engineering. S he also holds a master’s degree in Engineering and is the brain behind the innovative TCM products of Dragon Acupuncture®. She is the author of The Beginner's Guide to Auricular Therapy: Application of Ear Seeds (ISBN 978-1520451398) and Facial Gua Sha - Fight the Signs of Aging Naturally and Inexpensively (ISBN 978-1980678922). She has dedicated her life to ensuring that the complex theories behind oriental medicine and the seemingly dangerous techniques that involve needles and fire do not scare you from trying oriental medicine. This is why she writes endlessly about acupressure and its countless health and wellness benefits.

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