by Catherine Spinley

Sunday Forever Bloat Massage.jpg





We all know that scene in the movie Alien where the slimy, little extraterrestrial bursts from an astronaut’s stomach, scurries across the dinner table and causes complete chaos aboard a space shuttle. Who can’t empathize with that astronaut (Executive Officer Kane)? I mean, there was a brief period of my life when I was serious about eating Grape Nuts for breakfast and, like clockwork, everyday at 11AM, my abdomen did a Lord of the Dance-like jig not unlike Executive Officer Kane’s (although, I didn’t get a pet alien out of the whole ordeal). Alas, it was just a distended stomach from all that fiber but a girl can dream, can she not?

Image:  Pinterest

Image: Pinterest

I ended up cutting out the Grape Nuts. However, there’s a junk food drawer at work and I’ve tried to quit it but, inevitably, something goes wrong and suddenly I’m huffing white cheddar Smartfood like a savage. One those days, my stomach begins to bloat, my jeans hold on for dear life and there’s a mighty wind yearning to break free. Tested for Celiac Disease long ago, before it was trendy or an excuse to act precious, my negative results indicated laying off foods containing preservatives might be my best option (ahem - RIP Pop Tarts).  But while I continue to flirt with a boxes of cereal (Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you Cinnamon Toast Crunch), I’ve discovered this abdominal massage recommended by - wait for it - The Bowel Control Program at the University Of Michigan. It works wonders and takes about 10 minutes.

FULL DISCLOSURE: All Celiac jokes aside, I know it is a dangerous disease that needs to be treated seriously. That’s why I despise self-diagnosed Celiacs. Moving on…I want to remind you once again, these are health tips from a blogger and shouldn’t replace a doctor’s opinion or diagnosis. I’ve seen a doctor for all of the issues I have (and even the ones I don’t), and confirmed it’s safe for me to treat these things holistically.  Make sure you see your health care professional, as well. Science is not to be ignored (ahem).

Here's the massage:

1) Put on a pair of comfortable bottoms - yoga pants are best - and lie on a hard, flat surface. It’s best to have the support of a hard floor, not a soft mattress when performing this massage.

2) Place your right hand on the lower right abdomen and begin lightly pressing downward into the stomach with a gentle kneading motion.

3) As you press down and work the air downward move hand up right side of abdomen, in effect pushing the air down and out of your stomach. This should take 1 minute.

4) Repeat on the left side of the abdomen for 1 minute.

5) Alternate sides for 10 minutes (5 rounds on each side)

6) You’ll know it’s working when you hear your stomach gurgle, which is an indication you’re displacing the air causing the bloat. It will sound like you’re very hungry.

7) You should not feel sharp pain. If you do, a visit to the doctor is probably in order.

The entire massage usually takes about 10 minutes but you can repeat the steps until the bloating subsides. It also helps to make sure your drinking a good amount of water daily. Now, be warned, you are *literally* moving air through your abdomen so there are going to be noises and things happening that are perfectly natural. If you’re shy, maybe don’t do this in front of those who aren’t intimate with your flatulence habits. In the end, don’t be embarrassed. As my Italian grandmother used to say, “It’s better to bear the shame than the pain,” and I happen to agree.

Be sure to catch The Sunday Issues’ final installment of at-home taps and tugs when we talk about The Migraine Meditation. Migraines affect three-times as many women as men and I am LIVID about it. Plus, I suffer from them and I’ve found a regimen that diminishes the duration and intensity of my headaches that I am going to tell you about in great detail.


Catherine Spinley is a sometimes-writer and photographer based in New York. When not stalking other people’s dogs or yelling at people who refuse to walk up the left side of the escalator, she works in the beauty industry and practices yoga. You can read more from her at