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Article: Bodywork for IBS, Digestive Support, Pain…& Everything Else!

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Bodywork for IBS, Digestive Support, Pain…& Everything Else!

In naturopathy - there’s a concept called ‘obstacle to cure’. When a ‘dis-eased’ human asks for help, one really important consideration is “what are the obstacles to cure for this person?”. These must be removed for a great result. Ie - is their home mouldy? Is their mattress dodgy? Are they a shift worker? Are they continually eating something they’re intolerant to? Are they in a close relationship with a person they’re intolerant to? (NB In both instances we could try decreasing contact with the irritant or improving their capacity to tolerate it!)


Often - an obstacle to cure is the very thing causing the illness in the first place, the ‘external stressor’ plus their individual response to it. It might be smoking, alcohol, drugs (recreational or pharmaceutical), overeating, under-sleeping, addiction to gaming or gambling or shopping or sugar or stress, a specific type of repetitive physical activity (could be occupational or recreational ie same physical labor job or same sport over time). But what’s usually driving these destructive habits is some type of internal stress. The unhealthy behaviours are started to ‘cope’ with the stress.


Sometimes we can see really obvious obstacles to cure, but other times they’re much more subtle.


So - applying this concept to our gut, IBS & other digestive symptoms, I’ve recently realised there’s an area I’ve paid very little attention to - how the structure of your body affects its function. And vice versa.


This means there’s a lot of possibilities for real, lasting improvement in your gut (or any other symptom), by altering the way you habitually move & the way things are sitting inside you (your structure & your function). Everything in your body is connected, so altering one thing that’s ‘out of whack’ can shift seemingly unrelated issues.


If you’re feeling ‘stuck’ with your IBS symptoms, have tried all the diets & the meditation & the supplements, I highly recommend exploring one (or more) of the following to see if working on your physical structure can help correct its function. (Hint - it absolutely can!!)


Ask around in your area for practitioners of these modalities (your local health store could be a good place to start enquiring):

  • The Feldenkrais method
  • Body Awareness Therapy
  • Rolfing
  • Myofascial release
  • Biomechanics
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Somatic Therapy
  • Osteopathic treatment


    Some links to help explain various therapies…

    Why not Osteopathy, Feldenkrais or Physiotherapy?

    What is Rolfing® Structural Integration?

    What is Fascia?


    Some of the listed therapies are even useful for severe physical dysfunction / misalignment like scoliosis, post stroke dysfunction, cerebral palsy, & pain you’ve been told needs surgery or is ‘unfixable’. (There’s probably loads more - but these I’ve either read or heard great feedback on, or found useful myself).


    Note: If you’re really in a bad way / lots of pain & dysfunction, don’t go for yoga & pilates so much - these are great for prevention / maintenance but much better to ‘get professionally straightened out first’ with a more focused therapeutic approach like Rolfing, Feldenkrais, Biomechanics, Myofascial release, Osteopathy etc.


    All of the above-mentioned can improve flow / decrease rigidity / unstick ‘stuckness’ in your body, therefore allow your natural, healthy structure to be restored. And healthy function & structure give rise to each other. Structure dictates function, but over time, continual dysfunction really messes with structure. And then that messed up structure = severe dysfunction. You can also call this ageing!! Working on freeing up our structure & improving our posture is crucial / maybe the most important overall anti-ageing strategy (it will slow down the wear & tear, preserve your energy & keep everything flowing as it should, lessen or even eliminate pain). And - bonus - it’s now becoming recognised that our mental-emotional issues respond well to releasing, strengthening & realigning our physical body (if you can’t figure out your mental issues but you know they’re causing you physical issues, get yourself booked into one of these therapies!)


    NOTE: If you know your posture / alignment / movement is wonky (ie most of us, esp if you have pain), don’t jump straight into any exercise or sports, because all your hard work in exercising will be aggravating your misalignment & accelerating you towards injury & premature ageing. Get your posture sorted first, learn how to align yourself & move properly, THEN do your exercises (keeping posture front of mind / keep checking).


    Further reading - a few structure / function gurus whose work you may find interesting / useful:

    • Robert Schleip
    • Peter Schwind
    • Hubert Godard
    • Tom Myers
    • Daniel E. Lieberman
    • Stephen Porges

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