Abdominal Fascia Release – Try This if You Have Digestive Issues or Process Anxiety in Your Gut

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Do you have knots in your stomach? Do you process anxiety and stress in your gut, or have digestive issues?

The gut is a HUGE and very complicated topic. This post is meant to be a signal in the dark, a stopping point where you might glimpse a piece or two of your own unique “gut” puzzle; and I’ll give you a self-help abdominal release technique you can use to begin chipping away at the tension in your belly.

While this self-help work can be extremely beneficial, if possible I highly recommend that you find someone in your area who does Mayan Abdominal Massage. My entire abdominal region has never felt so light, free and spacious as it did after a massage with someone who specializes in this work.

Before I teach you today’s technique I have a question for you:

Are you listening to your gut?

I had horrible digestive issues for nearly 20 years that often meant I opted out of parties, excused myself from dates and hermitted at home even though I wanted to be around people because it was preferable to be alone than put a fake smile on my face and pretend I felt “normal” when I was really in a lot of pain.

The KEY (for me) to healing my gut wasn’t releasing the fascia in my abdomen.

I’m not going to tell my whole story or we’d be here all day, but essentially this boiled down to two things:

  1. I had not “digested” some of the painful experiences of my early life. I had unprocessed trauma stored in my gut and it was screaming for attention. When I finally faced it, felt and “digested” those experiences…my actual gut digestion changed dramatically for the better (by about 90%, and it’s stayed this way for the past 2.5 years).
  2. I ignored my gut/brain for way too long. When I stopped ignoring my intuitions and instincts and decided to TRUST them implicitly and let them guide me through life…I stopped feeling so much turmoil and tension in my gut.

I believe all the tension, restriction and knots in our bellies are not the actual cause of our gut issues but another “symptom” alongside whatever gut or digestive issues we might be experiencing. Releasing the fascia without addressing the TRUE cause is like trying to fix a leaky faucet by catching the excess water in a bucket.

I’m not a therapist or a digestive health expert, this is simply my own  personal experience and every one of you will have to find your own “right” way to get to the root cause.

The technique I’m about to show you will help in the interim, hopefully bring you some relief and might just get you more in touch with your gut and what it’s trying to tell you.

Fascia and the “second” (or first?) brain:

The gut is often referred to as our “second” brain. I propose it is likely vastly more intelligent than our thinking brain.

We have ten times as many proprioceptors in our fascia as we do muscle fiber.

Proprioception is our ability to feel our physical body in space, and proprioceptors are the nerves that conduct movement by telling muscles to do their job.

Fascia wraps or coats EVERY nerve ending. This includes proprioceptors, but also every other kind of nerve. Consider that we have motor nerves, sensory nerves and autonomic nerves (which regulate breathing, heart beat, digestion etc), and ALL of these converge en masse in our abdominal cavity where there is more going on than anywhere else in the body (except the brain).

The relationship between fascia and the nervous system has not been studied much yet, but I’m betting there will be some major findings in the future about the connection between fascia and how we (as individuals AND as a species) process our entire lives. Every thought, every trauma, every joy, every “butterfly” moment of nervous excitement and every single stressor – all of these experiences are happening in the nerves and FELT by the fascia (the tissue we ‘feel’ the world with).

The fascia then either moves “stuff” (experiences) through us, or…if we’re not moving through our experiences fully, this incredible system of tissues stores them for us so we can address them later.

We probably have more fascia in our gut than anywhere else in the body in large part because of all the nerves there.

The common saying when we’re stressed that “I have knots in my belly” is in fact a good literal description for anyone who processes stress or anxiety in their gut!

If this is you, chances are extremely high you have actual physical knots in your abdomen. Releasing them won’t “fix” whatever it is that’s creating them, but it will hopefully bring you some relief while you work on finding the true cause.

Reasons to release your abdominal fascia:

  • Releasing the restrictions and tightness in the abdomen can bring space and fresh blood to the area, which makes for healthier organs, better breathing and easier digestion.
  • If you process anxiety or stress in your gut, this will help relieve some of that tension.
  • This can help women have less severe cramps during menstruation.
  • This may help with some instances of low back pain and “tight” psoas issues (the “tight” psoas might actually just appear tight because of the extremely knotted up fascia in the abdomen and quad hip flexors pulling the muscle(s) in opposing directions.

Even if you don’t have digestion issues, you might have knots in your belly or benefit from releasing any tightness.

Please watch the video for the tutorial of how to do this work.

Once you’ve watched the video, make sure you’re getting the most out of this work.

Tips for the best result:

  • Make sure you are RELAXED and breathing through this!
  • Every breath you take while doing this work should be relaxed (not forced), using FULL inhales and FULL exhales
  • Find up to 10 tight or knotted spots and focus on each one for about 20 seconds
  • While releasing each spot KEEP YOUR FINGERS MOVING SLOWLY – you don’t want to move fast. Gentle show consistent movement will help break up the fascial knots
  • Spend approximately 3-4 full breaths on each spot before moving to the next
  • You can either “follow” one spot through your entire abdomen or pick and choose up to 10 separate spots that feel worthy of releasing
  • If what you’re doing HURTS, stop. This should feel slightly uncomfortable, and if your belly isn’t relaxed it might be more uncomfortable than it should be, but it shouldn’t HURT. Maybe back off the compression, try a really light touch or change spots.
  • If you find you have extremely an tight/knotted up belly, then try this once a day for a week – after that it’s really up to you how often you do this. As I’ve stated above a number of times, this isn’t meant to be a “fix” for your digestive issues, it’s meant to help you release old knots from stored trauma or unprocessed stress, and/or bring relief to a current experience while you seek out the true cause and find healing at the source.

I want to hear from you! Let me know how this works


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About Elisha Celeste

Let me show you how to decode your body’s messages, listen to your gut, get curious about your pain and turn physical, psychological and emotional adversity into your best ally for finding freedom and joy.

10 comments to " Abdominal Fascia Release – Try This if You Have Digestive Issues or Process Anxiety in Your Gut "
  • Peter

    Tried and and it works! I was really in need of this. Thank you!

  • Mary Anne

    Thank you for posting this video. I tried the technique just now and noticed a lot of tenderness all throughout (having a SIBO flare today). After I went all around once, I went back around again and it seemed maybe slightly less tender. One thing I noticed is that whenever I was in the central area, say between my sternum and naval, I noticed a definite throbbing (aorta, I assume). Should I be concerned about this? I also wonder how far away from my belly button I should stay. There definitely seems to be hardness in the area around my belly button, and I don’t know if this this is an area I should work on to soften/break up fascia or an area to be avoided. I actually had an appointment for Maya abdominal therapy a few months ago but cancelled because my SIBO symptoms actually settled down. Of course, the symptoms recurred, as they’re wont to do. I think I could definitely benefit from the therapy, especially since I could stand to be educated about what exactly I’m feeling around my abdomen. Again, thank you for this helpful video.

    • Elisha Celeste

      Hi Mary Anne – As long as the pressure you’re using is firm but gentle and NOT digging in or poking into that throbbing sensation I would consider it ok/safe. Definitely use your intuition and caution, and listen to your body! When I do this on myself I feel my heartbeat sometimes, like a throbbing “beat” under my hands and that’s totally normal, and in fact I’ve come to view it as a vital spot that needs restriction (blood is likely trying to rush in to that up until now restricted area). And Mayan abdominal massage is wonderful, definitely give it a try even if you don’t have symptoms of anything! It’ll help you know what to feel for on your own and act as an anti-inflammatory for the gut. Good luck! Elisha

  • Yael Rachel Camissar

    I am so glad I found this post! The past two days I have been feeling so much tension in my stomach muscles (and I have had digestive issues for years), but I didn’t realize how tight my stomach was until I did these exercise – and they have helped me enormously!
    Thank you so much!

  • L

    Thanks for the video! I’ve been having my chiropractor adjust my abdomen due to a Hiatal hernia and so much has improved. My anxiety came out and I feel so much better. But any stress tightens up my right side so watching this instruction is great at home maintenance. Thanks again. I’m forwarding this to my brother who I think will benefit from this also.

  • Karl Palsson

    Interesting to find this. I will be trying this out in the morning. I wanted for curiosities sake ask if you have experience working with singers with tension in this area.

    • Elisha Celeste

      Hi Karl – I don’t have experience with singers in particular around this area. Would LOVE to work with this because I definitely believe it would help! Please let me know what you discover!

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