7 Stretches To Help Constipation & Ease Digestion
- Digestion issues and constipation are common problems these days due to lifestyle problems.
- Different stretches or yoga asanas help digestion and gut health issues.
- These stretches improve bowel movements and spinal mobility, aid digestion, and increase blood flow to the gut.
- Yoga poses as Naukasana helps in the secretion of digestive juices, accelerating the digestion of food.
- A fiber-rich diet with fresh fruits and veggies, timely hydration, and digestive stretches will ensure an easy bowel.
Cringing over your cemented bowel? Sigh! We get you. Busy lifestyles, processed foods, snacks and beverages that lack fiber, drinking less water or fluids, lack of physical activity or prolonged periods of sitting, emotional stress or anxiety can impact digestive function, reduce bowel movements and increase the risk of constipation. Also, people, these days pop painkillers and antacids too often, and they may have constipation as a side effect.
In the words of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine- “All disease begins in the gut”. Modern medicine focuses more on diseases and their treatment and places gut health in otherwise healthy people on the back burner.
Gut Health Importance
Only recently, gut health has been a prominent area of research. Now it is being envisioned as a significant contributor to the overall well-being of humans.
- Gut health has been linked to the brain via the gut-brain axis and the liver via the gut-liver axis.
- The gut is now being researched for its connection with various organs and mental conditions, proclaiming the importance of gut health and why it is unignorable.
- Some signs of poor digestion are heartburn, burps, stomach aches etc.
- Some symptoms of poor digestion include diarrhea, constipation, bloating etc.
Stretches to Help Digestion
- What a person eats has always been important in digestive health.
- Other factors such as free-hand exercise, movement and stretches to help digestion also play a vital role in your gut’s well-being.
- If you are wondering if stretching is good for digestion, then you will be relieved to know that simple exercises like walking, stretching and bending can do wonders for your digestion!
You must be curious about how to fix poor digestion. Below, we discuss a few easy digestive stretches one can do, to speed up digestion and avoid constipation.
7 Stretches To Improve Digestion
1. Supine Spinal Twist
- The supine twist is an asana in yoga, also known as Supta Matsyendrasana, performed for its benefits in improving gut health and general body flexibility. It may help a person alleviate constipation.
- Stretching is good for digestion, and the supine spinal twist is also known to improve bowel movements and spinal mobility, aid digestion and increase blood flow to your gut.
Let us check how to do this yoga pose for constipation relief:
- 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, remember to engage your core muscles and feel the stretch.
2. 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 and helps in the easy movement of intestinal contents. This yoga asana is like a gentle massage for your internal organs.
Here’s how you can do the stretches to help constipation:
- To perform the Cat-Cow pose, get on your knees and place your palms on the ground to align with each other, and keep your back straight. It 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 engage your back and core muscles while holding this pose. Hold this pose for 4-5 breaths and return.
- To enter the cat pose, engage your core, slowly drawing your tailbone and belly inwards to your spine. Hold this pose for 4-5 breaths and then return to a neutral position.
- This exercise increases the blood flow to your intestines and is one of the best stretches for digestion and is also known to be one of the best stretches for constipation.
3. Forward Lunge
- Thinking about how to speed up digestion? The forward lunge is a simple yet effective exercise to strengthen your glutes and engage your core.
You can do this exercise for digestion, as mentioned below:
- To perform a forward lunge, stand with feet hip-width apart.
- Now take a step backwards. 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. Go as close to the ground as possible.
- This pose stretches the core and puts pressure on the gut, which can help relieve constipation. Therefore, this stretch also qualifies as one of the best stretches to help with constipation.
4. Boat Pose (Naukasana)
- The boat pose is an efficient way to strengthen your core and aid digestion.
- It can improve the secretion of digestive juices, which in turn makes the digestion of food easy.
- The naukasana also powers up the intestines and helps with bowel movement.
Here’s how you can do this fruitful exercise for digestion:
- To perform this asana, sit with your knees bent and feet on the floor on your back on the ground. It 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 your legs to knee height spreading out your toes.
- Straighten your legs 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 these exercises to help digestion.
5. The Deep Squat
Now squats are the usual routine in exercise. But do you know deep squat is excellent for chronic constipation?
- The pose helps align the anal canal with the last part of the intestine, helps in the easy and proper release of gases and improves 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 gastric emptying and easy passage of stools.
What you need to do for this pose is:
- With feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, keep your ankle and knee in a vertical stack (the shin should be vertical), and lower your back and butt towards the ground.
- Squat as far as you are comfortable while maintaining the vertical shin position.
- Hold this pose for a second and then return to the starting position.
- Repeat this squat ten times for the best results.
6. Child Pose
- As per yoga experts, ‘child pose’ or ‘balasana’ is supposed to massage and compress the digestive organs, increasing the food movement through the intestine and is considered one of the best yoga exercises for constipation.
It is easy to perform and has several benefits for the digestive system:
- To do this pose, sit on the floor with your feet tucked under your thighs.
- Lean forward and place your hands in front. Creep forward until your forehead touches 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.
7. Wind-relieving pose
Feeling blocked up? Try the wind-relieving pose, otherwise known as ‘pawanmuktasana’.
- It is an easy pose for beginners that can help alleviate gas associated with constipation.
- The pose massages the abdominal organs and opens up the orifices of the digestive system, clearing the accumulated gases.
Here’s how you can do yoga poses for bloating and constipation:
- 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.
- Now, lift your head off the floor and move it forward till your forehead touches your knees.
- 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, making it one of the bowel movement stretches for constipation.
If you were wondering if stretching is good for digestion or if yoga for constipation can work, you now know it is! Different stretches for digestion help digestion and 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 for the well-being of the overall digestive system.
With the improvements in eating habits like including more fiber from fresh sources like fruits and vegetables and with the help of these simple stretches and yoga for constipation relief, you will soon be able to bid farewell to constipation and other GI troubles.
Do these stretches with extreme care to not hurt yourself and get the maximum benefits of exercise. With practice, you can master these poses, and your digestive system will thank you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Exercise helps constipation by lowering the time for the food to move through the large intestine. Matsyendrasana (Seated Supine Twist), Pawanmuktasana (Wind Relieving pose), Nuakasana (boat pose), child pose etc., are good stretches for constipation. If you suffer persistent constipation, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.
Drink warm liquids or coffee to stimulate bowel movement. Activities like walking, jogging, or yoga, gently massaging your abdomen in a circular motion, eating high-fiber foods in your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, and taking laxatives or stool softeners may fasten the bowel movement.
Doing aerobic exercises like taking a brisk walk for 20-30 minutes each day can help stimulate bowel movements. Practising poses like Pawanmuktasana (Wind-Relieving Pose), Apanasana (Knees-to-Chest Pose), and Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) also may help promote bowel movements. Riding a stationary bike or outdoor cycling can exercise your abdominal muscles and increase bowel movements.
Constipation is common during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and the pressure of the growing uterus on the intestines. Some exercises considered safe and may help relieve constipation during pregnancy are walking, pelvic floor exercises/ Kegel exercises, prenatal yoga, squats etc. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting the routine.
Walking is a gentle exercise that aids digestion by increasing blood flow to the organs and stimulating intestinal muscles. Some yoga poses that are beneficial for digestion include Bharadvajasana (Seated Twist), Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend), and Pavanamuktasana (Wind-Relieving Pose). The jumping motion helps stimulate the abdominal muscles and increase blood flow to the digestive organs, promoting healthy digestion.
Pawanmuktasana (Wind-Relieving Pose), Malasana (Squat Pose), Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose), Marjariasana (Cat-Cow Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) etc. relieves constipation by stimulating the digestive system, increasing blood flow to the abdomen, and promoting proper bowel movements.
Did you like our Article?
Our team of experts frequently monitors developments in the health and wellness field, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Feb, 26 2024
Dr. Stefanenko Irina Borisovna
Sep, 05 2023
Dr. Stefanenko Irina Borisovna