So many of the hits to the KML site featured a bowel-related questions. Many of you out there are wondering if increased bowel or heavy bowel movements after massage treatment is a normal reaction. Yes it is and this article will tell you the how’s and the why’s of the whole process.
Digestion in a nutshell
There are four “pit stops” that the food you eat takes on the road through your body.
1. The Mouth: the ingestion bit where food and liquid is taken into the body and where digestion actually starts with breaking down starches.
2. The Stomach: general mixing up of the food, alcohol absorption and protein digestion takes place.
3. The Small Intestine: (anything but at 7 metres long) this is where carbohydrate and fat digestion and overall absorption takes place. What’s left over is waste product and this is furthered on “down the line” into the large intestine.
4. The Large Intestine: (only 1.5 metres long but a lot wider than the small intestine) this is where any further liquids and/or nutrients that are of use to the body are absorbed and the resulting matter solidifies to become known as faeces (aka ‘poo’). The large intestine moves the faeces on through peristalsis (involuntary muscle contractions) and also through the secretion of lubricating mucus.
Once the faeces reaches the rectum (the back passage), the brain gets the signal to defecate and you begin to hear “the call of nature”. Moving food through the stomach and small intestines takes a matter of hours but it can take a couple of days for the food waste to work its way through the large intestine.
Fact to remember: defecation is a reflex that humans can control. If you choose to “hold it”, then the large intestine will continue to extract water and minerals, which could leave the faeces hard and cause constipation – so “better out than in”!
The Sympathetic Response
This bit is really important. It is your “fight or flight” response and is part of your evolutionary DNA. If you are in a stressful or dangerous situation you have two choices: stand and fight or run like hell. Either way, your body readies you for the physical strain. It increases respiratory and circulatory function, upping blood flow to your heart and muscles. Meanwhile, non-essential functions like digestion slow down. In today’s stressful world, there are a lot of us out there with over-taxed hearts and sluggish digestive systems. Bottom line is that stress in any prolonged form is bad for you, both physically and mentally.
Massage to the Rescue
Hoorah(!), massage helps calm the body and the mind, which means that it kick starts the Parasympathetic Response. This slows down breathing and your circulation, lowers your blood pressure and turns back on your digestion (the repetitive strokes of a massage on the lower torso also help stimulate the large intestine). This is why frequent or large bowel movements can be experienced post-massage. As explained above, many people are too busy or too stressed to have regular bowel movements. This can result in their poo being dark or very pungent.
Of course, you can massage with our Kneader massage tool, a little every day. This helps relieve stress, and keep your body functioning. Read how this simple tool can perform all key massage techniques.
I hope this helps a bit and I will be posting more on this very pressing subject. For now, be well and happy and stay massaged!