7 Stretches To Improve Digestion & Ease Constipation
- 6 mins read
- Dr. Pramod Mane
All disease begins in the gut. These were the words of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. Modern medicine focuses more on diseases and their treatment and places gut health in otherwise healthy people on the back burner. It has been only a few years since gut health has become a major area of research and is being envisioned as a major contributor to overall well-being. Gut health has been linked to the brain via the gut-brain axis and to the liver via the gut-liver axis. These are two prominent axes, but the gut is also being studied for its connection with various organs and mental conditions. This tells us how important gut health is and why it is certainly not to be ignored.
Some signs of poor digestion are heartburns, burps, and stomach aches whereas some symptoms of poor digestion include diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. Common Problems such as weight gain, constipation, peptic ulcers, hemorrhoids, etc have grown roots in our lives due to our poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle. Problems of poor digestion can be fixed, These problems can be managed by watching what we eat and some exercise. What a person eats has always been important when it comes to digestive health. However other factors such as stretching, movement, and exercise also play a vital role in your gut’s wellbeing. If you’re wondering, is stretching good for digestion? Then you will be relieved to know that Simple Exercises like walking, stretching, and bending can do wonders for your digestion! By now you must be curious about how to fix poor digestion. Below, we discuss a few easy stretches one can do to speed up digestion and avoid constipation.
SUPINE SPINAL TWIST
The supine twist is an asana in yoga also known as Supta Matsyendrasana which is performed for its benefits in improving gut health and general flexibility of the body. It may help a person alleviate constipation. Stretching is good for digestion and the supine spinal twist is also known to improve bowel movements, spinal mobility, aid in digestion and increase blood flow to your gut.
To perform this twist, lie flat on the back with your arms out to the side with palms down. Bend one leg at the knee and let it drop over the other leg. Hold the pose for 4-5 breaths, then repeat these steps on the opposite side. While performing this simple exercise, don’t forget to engage your core muscles and feel the stretch.
THE CAT AND COW POSE
The cat-cow pose is a fusion of the traditional cat pose and the cow pose. This pose is known to stretch out the spine, muscles of the back, and abdomen. This conjoint movement of the back, lower back, and abdomen help in the peristalsis motion, that is it helps in the easy movement of intestinal contents. This yoga asana is like a gentle massage for your internal organs.
To perform the Cat-Cow pose, get on your knees and place your palms on the ground such that they are aligned in line with each other, and keep your back straight. This is a neutral stance. To enter the cow pose, gently move your tailbone upwards-arching your lower back such that your stomach goes downwards. Look up to gently stretch your neck and don’t forget to engage your back and core muscles while holding this pose. Hold this pose for 4-5 breaths and return to the neutral pose. To enter the cat pose, engage your core, slowly drawing your tailbone and belly inwards towards your spine. Hold this pose for 4-5 breaths and then return to a neutral position. This exercise increases the flow of blood to your intestines and is a boon for your gut!
The forward lunge is a simple yet effective exercise to strengthen your glutes and engage your core.
To perform a forward lunge stand with feet hip-width apart. Now take a step backward. Engage your core, activate your glutes, and slowly bend this knee as close to the ground as possible while keeping the shin of your forward leg straight. Don’t let your knee touch the ground, just go as close to the ground as possible. This pose stretches the core and puts pressure on the gut which can help in relieving constipation.
BOAT POSE (NAUKASANA)
The boat pose is an efficient way to strengthen your core and aid in the digestion process. It can improve the secretion of digestive juices which in turn makes digestion of food easier. The naukasana also powers up the intestines and helps with bowel movement.
To perform this aasan, sit with your knees bent and feet on the floor laying your back on the ground. This is a neutral pose. To get into the boat pose, lift your chest while placing your hands parallel to your knees. breathe in during this part. engage your core and inner thighs and lift up your legs up to knee height spreading out your toes. straighten your legs completely while breathing out. hold this pose for 4-5 breaths. feel the pinch in your belly and the stretch in your back for maximum gain. Practice this aasan for improving your digestion.
THE DEEP SQUAT
The pose helps in aligning the anal canal with the last part of the intestine and helps in the easy and proper release of gases and improves the bowel movement. A deep squat is a type of squat in which your hips are supposed to go all the way down below the level of your knees. This motion is known to help in gastric emptying and easy passage of stools.
This is what you need to do for this pose. With feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, keeping your ankle and knee in a vertical stack (shin is vertical), lower your back and butt towards the ground. Go down as far as you’re able while maintaining the vertical shin position. hold this pose for a second or two and then return to the starting position. Repeat this squat 10 times for getting the best results.
As per yoga experts, child pose or balasana is supposed to massage and compress the digestive organs which increases the movement of food through the intestine in an orderly manner and prevents constipation. It is easy to perform and has several benefits for the digestive system.
To perform this pose, sit on the floor with your feet tucked under your thighs. Lean forward and place your hands in front of you, creeping forward until your forehead is touching the mat. Hold for a few moments while you breathe and then release. Repeat a few times to feel the stretch and reap its benefits.
WIND RELIEVING POSE
Feeling a little blocked up? Try the wind-relieving pose, otherwise known as pawanmuktasana. This is an easy pose for beginners that can help alleviate gas associated with constipation. The pose massages the abdominal organs and also opens up the orifices of the digestive system, thus helping in getting rid of the gases accumulated in the system.
To perform this pose, lie on the back and fold your knees. Now hold the folded knees with your arms and move them slowly towards your chest such that it puts pressure on your gut. Hold this pose for 4-5 breaths and then relax. Repeat this pose 2-3 times for good results. Relieving wind helps with bloating and makes stool motion easier thus relieving constipation.
If you were wondering, is stretching good for digestion? you now know that it does! Different poses and stretches can encourage the digestive tract to improve the secretion of digestive juices, to improve the churning of food, for the betterment of intestinal movement, and the wellbeing of the overall digestive system. With the improvements in eating habits such as including more fiber from fresh sources like fruits and vegetables and with the help of these simple stretches, you will soon be able to bid adieu to constipation and other GI troubles. Do these stretches with extreme care to not hurt yourself. With practice, you can master these poses and your digestive system will thank you for the same.
- 5 Super-Simple Exercises to Ease Constipation Available at https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/everyday-fitness/exercises-to-ease-constipation/Accessed on 23 August 2021
- Yoga for Constipation: Poses for Relief Available at https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/yoga-for-constipation#TOC_TITLE_HDR_1Accessed on 23 August 2021
- Yoga for constipation: 8 poses for quick relief Available at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327086#summaryAccessed on 23 August 2021