We all know the discomfort of dealing with stomach pain, whether it’s a mild annoyance or more severe, it can really ruin your day.
For those that prefer natural remedies, suffer from allergies to various pain medications, have lighter pain for which medication is overkill, or who’ve already used our RDA of painkillers – effective, natural, and non-invasive pain solutions is essential.
In these moments of discomfort, yoga for stomach pain are the perfect remedy, offering gentle yet effective techniques to soothe and alleviate those troublesome tummy woes.
To help you, in this article on stretches for stomach pain, we’ll be looking at:
- Common causes of stomach pain
- The science behind stretches for stomach pain
- Who shouldn’t use stretched for stomach pain
- 11 best stretches for stomach pain
5 Common causes of stomach pain
Stomach pain can stem from a variety of factors, which can be benign or more serious. Some of the most common causes of stomach pain include:
- Digestion issues: Indigestion, gas, constipation, diarrhea, food allergies, and food poisoning can all contribute to stomach pain.
- Menstruation: Women may experience stomach pain during their menstrual cycle.
- Injuries: Trauma to the abdomen can result in stomach pain.
- Infections: Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections can cause stomach pain.
- Diseases: Conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and ulcers can lead to stomach pain.
It’s super important to note that the severity of the pain does not necessarily indicate the seriousness of the underlying cause. Temporary conditions can be intense, while life-threatening ones may present as mild discomfort.
For this reason, if the pain is one or more of the following, immediate medical attention should be sought: severe, lasting over 24 hours, chronic or recurrent pain, or accompanied by symptoms like vomiting, fever, etc.
stretches for stomach pain: how they work
What are stretches for stomach pain?
First things first – we all talk about stretching, but what actually is it and how does it work?
Put simply, stretching is a wellness technique that involves putting your body in specific positions which are outside of your daily range of motion, with the goal of lengthening and elongating the soft and hard tissue groups, thus enhancing their flexibility and elasticity.
Stretching exercises can also apply gentle pressure to the muscles and surrounding tissue, like a light massage, promoting muscle relaxation, enhancing blood circulation, alleviating muscle soreness, improving flexibility, and reducing stress.
Scientific studies on stretched for stomach pain
Stretching has been proven in numerous peer-reviewed studies to be an effective method for pain relief, with research indicating that stretching can reduce pain by enhancing our range of motion, reducing muscle tension, and improving sensory tolerance.
Stretching also contributes to reducing inflammation, improving digestion, and promoting better blood circulation to muscles and fascia, which can alleviate muscle soreness and discomfort.Moreover, mindful stretching calms us and activates our parasympathetic nervous system, fostering a sense of calmness and relaxation, mitigating the psychological effects of stress.
Studies have shown that stretching is statistically effective in alleviating pain, with consistent stretching programs consistently demonstrating pain reduction across the body, attributed to an increased sensory tolerance for pain.
Additionally, one study from 2018 published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research focused on young women with menstrual and low back pain, and they found that a modified stretching exercise program actually helped reduce the pain they experienced during their periods.
Related article: The 5 Best Yoga Poses to Ease Menstrual Cramps
Another clinical trial from 2018 explored the impact of stretching exercises on stomach pain severity and quality of life among women with primary dysmenorrhea, finding them to be a successful method of relief from the painful symptoms of dysmenorrhea.
Who shouldn’t use Stretches for stomach pain?
While stretching can be a great natural solution to tummy pain, it’s not recommended for everyone.
If you are experiencing severe or chronic stomach pain or any of the following contraindications, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before practicing these stretches:
- Recent abdominal surgery or injury: Avoid poses that put excessive pressure on the abdomen.
- Pregnancy: Modify poses as needed and consult a prenatal yoga specialist for guidance.
- Hernia or any other abdominal condition: Certain poses may exacerbate these conditions, so it’s best to seek guidance from a healthcare professional.
11 best stretches for stomach pain
Now we’ve got all the background information done, time for what you all came for – a list of effective and easy stretches for stomach pain.
Oh, and don’t forget to check out all the poses listed below on their corresponding yoga pose library page to find out more about their alignment, contraindications, instructions, and benefits!
#1: Reclined Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
- Lie on your back with your legs extended.
- Bend your right knee and draw it into your chest.
- Gently guide your right knee across your body toward the left side.
- Extend your right arm out to the side, keeping your shoulder grounded.
- Keep both shoulders relaxed on the ground and gaze toward the right hand.
- Avoid lifting your right shoulder off the ground or forcing your knee to touch the ground.
- You’re doing the pose correctly if you feel a gentle stretch along the spine and outer hip.
#2: Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart.
- Press your feet firmly into the ground and lift your hips toward the ceiling.
- Roll your shoulders underneath you and interlace your fingers beneath your body.
- Lift your chest slightly and lengthen through your neck.
- Avoid squeezing your glutes or clenching your buttocks.
- You’re doing the pose correctly if you feel a gentle opening in the chest and front of the hips.
#5: Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Exhale and fold forward from your hips, bending your knees if necessary.
- Allow your upper body to hang loosely, releasing tension in the neck and shoulders.
- You can rest your hands on the ground, hold opposite elbows, or place your palms on the back of your calves.
- Avoid locking your knees or straining to touch the floor.
- You’re doing the pose correctly if you feel a gentle stretch in the hamstrings and lower back.
#6: Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
- Lie on your back and bring your knees toward your chest.
- Separate your knees wider than your torso and reach for the outsides of your feet.
- Flex your feet and gently pull down on your feet to bring your knees closer to the ground.
- Keep your lower back grounded on the mat and relax your shoulders.
- Avoid rounding your spine or straining your neck.
- You’re doing the pose correctly if you feel a gentle stretch in the hips and inner thighs.
#7: Child’s Pose (Balasana)
- Kneel on the floor and sit back on your heels.
- Lower your torso down toward the ground and extend your arms forward.
- Rest your forehead on the mat and relax your shoulders.
- Allow your hips to sink toward your heels.
- Avoid gripping or tensing your buttocks or neck.
- You’re doing the pose correctly if you feel a gentle stretch in your lower back and shoulders.
#8: Wind Release Pose (Apanasana)
- Lie on your back and bring your knees up toward your chest.
- Wrap your arms around your shins or hold onto opposite elbows.
- Gently rock from side to side to massage your lower back.
- You’re doing the pose correctly if you feel a release of tension in your lower back and a gentle compression of your abdomen.
#9: Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matysandrasana)
- Sit with your legs extended in front of you.
- Bend your right knee and place your right foot on the ground outside your left knee.
- Place your left foot next to your right thigh, with the sole on the ground.
- Twist your torso to the right, placing your left elbow outside your right knee.
- Lengthen your spine on each inhale and deepen the twist on each exhale.
- Avoid rounding your back or straining your neck.
- You’re doing the pose correctly if you feel a gentle twist in your spine and a stretch along your side body.
#10: Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
- Lie on your stomach with your legs extended and the tops of your feet pressing into the ground.
- Place your palms on the ground under your shoulders, elbows close to your body.
- Inhale and press your hands into the ground, lifting your chest and upper body.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and draw your shoulder blades toward each other.
- Look forward or slightly upward, without compressing the back of your neck.
- Avoid using your arms to lift your body too high or compressing your lower back.
- You’re doing the pose correctly if you feel a gentle opening in the chest and a slight engagement in the lower back muscles.
#11: Wheel Pose (Chakrasana)
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart and close to your buttocks.
- Bend your elbows and place your palms on the ground beside your shoulders, fingers pointing toward your shoulders.
- Press your hands and feet into the ground, lifting your hips off the floor.
- Straighten your arms and legs, coming onto the top of your head.
- Press further into your hands and feet to lift your chest upward.
- Keep your thighs parallel and engaged, and draw your shoulder blades together.
- Avoid collapsing your lower back or straining your neck.
- You’re doing the pose correctly if you feel a strong backbend and engagement in your arms, legs, and core.
#12: Ujjayi Breathing
While we might not think of it, breathing exercises are a great way to give a stretch to our internal tissues.
Ujjayi breathing in particular can help with tummy pain by inducing relaxation, reducing stress, and promoting better digestion by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position or on a chair with your spine straight.
- Relax your shoulders and close your eyes.
- Take a deep inhalation through your nose, filling your lungs completely.
- As you exhale, slightly constrict the back of your throat to create a gentle “ha” sound.
- Maintain a smooth and even breath, inhaling and exhaling through your nose.
- Avoid straining your breath or creating tension in your throat or jaw.
- You’re doing the technique correctly if you feel a soothing and calming effect, with a soft sound in the back of your throat during exhalation.
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