Photo: woods wheatcroft photography

Is Your Hard Stomach Why You’re Sick? Part 1

Do you have digestive or urinal-genital problems? When you gently push on your stomach, does it give or is it firm?

In spite of our cultural training, we aren’t meant to have hard stomachs – six-pack abs is a set-up for visceral and back problems. Abdominal tension not only compresses you by shortening your waist, it compresses your organs. It is as if you have someone sitting on your stomach.

Everything from ulcerative colitis to irritable bowels is linked to chronic stress. Stress is the unfortunate consequence of our 24/7 society. When you’re always “on,” your body thinks you’re in survival mode and acts accordingly: in a crisis, your resources are allocated to the aspects of your body that can save your life, such as your skeletal muscles, while taking from less critical areas such as your digestive system.

Over time the stress and tension accumulate to create tense abs and an internal kink in your GI tract. Your entire abdomen becomes tense, but usually one particular organ takes the hit. For example, the upper abdomen may be so tense and held in that it literately pushes the stomach and esophagus up into your chest causing Gastroesophageal reflux or acid reflux where stomach contents back up from the stomach into the esophagus. This also causes the loss of your ability to take a full breath.

No one would intentionally restrict their organs, compress their back, or decrease their breath – so why do you do it? You were taught to suck in your gut to look good. Unfortunately, the soft tissue of your gut also became the repository of your stress.

A solution

I have rarely seen even a child come in who doesn’t have some tension in their abdomen. Recently a teenager came to me for neck problems. When I touched her stomach it was like touching her ribcage. There was no give. Her abdomen didn’t move as she breathed.

I asked her if she ever had digestive problems. Immediately she began telling me about how she’s always in pain. Her symptoms included diarrhea, upset stomachs and menstrual cramps.

Even though her abdomen felt like a rock, we were able to get it to release a little. A week later she returned to tell me she had no abdominal symptoms. The physical release of her tension, coupled with her practicing letting her stomach relax began to give her organs more space.

See the next article.

Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advance Rolfer,, 32 yrs experience – call if you have questions: 265.8440. 

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