Who hasn’t felt like their stomach lining is on fire after eating a heavy or spicy meal, or even too much wine? It happens, but despite our best efforts, it’s a hassle that seems to last for months, maybe years. It can be so bad that you find a bottle of antacid in every room: the kitchen, the bathroom, and maybe even in the glove compartment. Nonetheless, it’s important to look into it to avoid any permanent damage.
I discovered that I was suffering from acid reflux by accident after an annual checkup. He informed me that a chronic cough I’d had for months had nothing to do with my lungs but the acid irritating my esophagus! I changed my diet and started researching (you can bet I’ll be writing about this a lot). I also learned that adapting some exercising in my routine could help reduce the burning sensation too. Today, I’m reaping the rewards of those efforts and it’s a relief I’m no longer kindling a flame like Grisu the dragon. Today I’m sharing my tips and tricks to help you feel better and you’ll see, it’s simple yet effective!
DON’T DROP THE SOAP
Like the old gym saying goes, don’t drop the soap at the gym! While it’s an aggressive mental shortcut, it bears repeating that you should keep your head elevated and modify exercises like Downward Dog in yoga, for example. Instead of doing inverted poses that might cause trigger acid reflux, you can, with yoga blocks, elevate the head and chest. You can purchase a headstand bench, but my yoga instructor Nathalie Salvas suggests using whatever you have on hand. Even a piano bench can do the trick! The goal is not invert at such a sharp angle and lengthen instead, which means that the movements and breathing will be more fluid and you can relax into the poses better while keeping the acid reflux at bay. Be sure to stop the bench from sliding by putting it on your yoga mat instead of the floor.
Using the blocks, whether it’s for yoga or toning, was a game changer. Choose one that you can grip easily. It’ll become your best ally, especially when it comes to the tougher exercises. They’re great for planks, horse pose, or burpees. You won’t turn your stomach doing exercises which, trust me, are very effective!
DITTO WITH THE DUMBBELLS
Our posture when we’re lifting weights and dumbbells need to be corrected too. Leaning forward for tricep extensions can precipitate more pain. Modify these exercises by standing up, raising your arms with the weights in hand, and bending your elbows towards the back of your head.
“Adjusting the incline of the body so the head is more elevated than the stomach helps to decrease the pressure. Any exercise can be modified to any upright position so that your head is more elevated than your stomach. This helps in that it doesn’t stir up the stomach acid, which can usually leak back into the esophagus, causing further irritation. Any exercise can be done standing up and you should avoid any exercises involving jumping during an acid reflux attack,” says trainer Sonia Renaud.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE ABS?
Crunches can also be problematic: lifting the head and curving the body repeatedly can also trigger acid reflux. If this is happening to you, try sitting up and taking a break.
Turning to exercises that tone the transverse abs, which are located deep within the “six-pack abs” area, or try hypopressive ab exercises, which are also seated or standing workouts. The internet is a great resource when it comes to these specific kinds of workouts. I love Monica Yearwood who makes videos specifically for hiatal hernias and acid reflux, and includes great breathing exercises.
Try to avoid tight belts that can compress your internal organs and try to take off your shoes using a bench instead of bending over. These little changes can help mitigate pain and discomfort that can feel like they’ll never end. At night, think about your posture while sleeping too.
My sister Noémie Gélinas, who authored Finding Balance with Belly Massage, suggest to avoid lying down right after a meal, even if it’s tempting!
“When we’re turning down, it’s better to elevate the back a little bit or even sleep on your left side. Wedge pillows are a great option as they stop the stomach acid from leaking back into the esophagus.”
Here’s to hoping these changes can help with GERD and improve your gastrointestinal woes.
Stay safe and healthy!