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5 Best Pressure Points for Constipation

Constipation can be frustrating. Try massaging these pressure points to get things moving.

5 Best Pressure Points for Constipation

Pattarisara Suvichanarakul / Getty Images

Whether you are an adult or a child, feeling constipated can be incredibly frustrating. It has been known to cause back pain and can just make you feel crummy.

Thankfully, this common problem is treatable if you know what to do. Before taking a laxative, it's worth trying something a bit gentler. Acupressure is often considered an alternative therapy, but it's safe for most people and has few possible side effects. Plus, it's much less disruptive to your system than a laxative or other more aggressive treatments.

Here are the five best pressure points for constipation, along with some helpful tips on how to get some relief.

What causes constipation?

According to Susana Melendez, a licensed massage therapist at ORA, a wellness centre in New York, "Constipation, or the difficulty or inability to have a bowel movement, can be caused by many factors, including diet, stress, change of routine, or being on certain medications." If you're feeling constipated, keep in mind that one or several of these things can be the cause.

Dehydration is another reason you could be constipated, explains Gabriel Sher, Chief of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine Development at ORA. "Constipation in Chinese medicine deals with two main things. One is a lack of fluids that nourish the digestive organs and stagnation in the body's digestive organs. Acupuncture and herbs are used to nourish the intestines and break up stagnation so the bowels move smoothly through the intestines."

So, if you're experiencing constipation, don't fret. You may need to drink more water, especially if it's a hot day or you aren't feeling well. Knowing what pressure points to massage can also help to get your bowels going again.

woman sitting on the toilet in pain iStock

What relieves constipation?

Sher tells me that Chinese medicine is a smart approach to treating constipation. "There are a group of herbs that help to moisten the intestines—most being herbs that are seeds (ren in Chinese). These herbs are more gentle and effective with patients suffering from mild constipation. When constipation is more severe, we have herbs that work more as purgatives."

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If your constipation is minor, Sher advises moving your body to help relieve it. While you might not be up for a tough workout, even getting outside and walking can help. Don't forget to bring a water bottle with you so you can replace any fluids you lose.

Fiber is essential for getting things moving. The US Department of Agriculture recommends 14g of fiber for every 1000 calories you eat. Around 97 percent of men and 90 percent of women aren't getting enough, which can lead to constipation.

Another option is to get an acupuncture or acupressure treatment. "Acupuncture locally helps to decrease bloating gas and stimulates the intestines to increase peristalsis (movement of the intestines)," he explains. But you don't necessarily need needles to help with constipation.

Can pressure points relieve constipation?

Yes, knowing what pressure point to massage can help relieve constipation. "By stimulating specific points by applying pressure, you begin to break up stagnation and induce bowel movements," says Sher. "In Traditional Chinese Medicine, pressure points are areas in the body associated with the organs and can be stimulated to provide relief of certain symptoms or tension when massaged. Some research suggests that acupressure can improve constipation symptoms."

Some studies also prove the effectiveness of pressure points for constipation. Melendez mentions a 2019 randomized, double-blind control trial with 70 participants undergoing dialysis. The study findings suggest that acupressure may be an effective complementary therapy for constipation.

5 Best Pressure Points for Constipation Photo: iStockphoto

Five best pressure points for constipation

Zusanli Or Stomach 36

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Located below the knee, Sher tells me the Zusanli or Stomach 36 is a common point to help relieve constipation. "It helps strengthen digestion and increase bowel movements."

Lower Stomach

Massaging your lower stomach can be quite helpful in relieving constipation. "Move your hands clockwise in a circular motion from Stomach 25 down to Ren 6 over to Stomach 25 (on the opposite side) and complete the circle at Ren 12 above the belly button," explains Sher. "This self-massage will help move the bowels through the intestines and relieve bloating."

He recommends doing ten rotations, 2 to 3 times daily, for best results.

SJ San Jiao 6

Another point for constipation is the SJ San Jiao 6, located on the dorsal aspect of the forearm, between the radius and the ulna. It is three finger widths away from your wrist crease.

LV (Liver) 2

Melendez tells me that massaging the LV (Liver) 2 just between where the big toe and second toe meet can help relieve constipation. "These points can be held or massaged in a circular motion for 1 to 3 minutes."

The Abdomen

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Are your bowels still not moving? Melendez suggests massaging your abdomen in a clockwise motion using light pressure. "Remembering to take deep breaths while stimulating these areas is important," he notes.

So relax and try massaging these points for relief.

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