Peristalsis is the process that moves food though our small and large intestines in the same way that a worm uses it’s muscles to push food through it’s body.

Why is this of significance in massage and aromatherapy?

It is certainly of interest to some of my clients because there are not many weeks in my Cambridge practice when a client does not apologise for the gurgles coming from their tummy and less frequently passing wind.

The reason this is significant is that it is to be expected during a massage. Massage and aromatherapy promote relaxation which leads to an increase in parasympathetic nervous system activity. This increases gut motility as well as having some effect on reducing blood pressure, anxiety and other bodily functions.

If you are a client and you experience this, there is no need to apologise to your therapist. It means they are doing a good job and if they have paid attention during the anatomy and physiology sessions when training they will know this!

One of my instructors mentioned that following a massage when she had done some extra work on the abductor muscles at the top of the thigh which she said were a reflex area for the large intestine the patient had their first bowel movement post operatively. While under some systems this area may be related to the large intestine, to me it is just as likely that the effect of the massage in general was responsible due to it’s effect on the nervous system which is the oposite of the fight and flight reflex where such activity is much reduced.