Have you ever felt like your stomach is tied up in knots? I know I have before. Before a big test in PT school, I was anxious and my stomach didn’t feel the greatest. Maybe you have been there, too.
One of the main nerves in the body, the vagus nerve, runs near the stomach before it splits into a multitude of smaller nerve branches. The vagus nerve is the main pathway of communication between the gut and the brain. It helps regulate the nervous system. When it moves well and receives input, it helps your body stay in parasympathetic dominance aka “rest, digest, heal” mode.
When the stomach area is tight, the vagus nerve can have limited mobility. Some people may experience digestive issues, such as acid reflux, indigestion or excessive belching as a result.
Breathing deeply through the abdomen with the diaphragm is a huge help and drives organ and lymph movement with breath. Manual therapy with visceral (organ/gut) mobilization are hugely beneficial to help the nervous system and the stomach. When organs move better, they work better.
Scar tissue and adhesions in the belly can restrict organ movement and optimal function as well.
If you are struggling with your stomach, I encourage you to think multi-system and holistically to help heal your body. Getting rid of scar tissue and loving on your organs, lymphatic system and vagus nerve are awesome healing tools!