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Physical therapist's favorite exercises for acid reflux

It's important for us to start with a huge DISCLAIMER here. Please see a physician before starting any kind of exercise regimen. What I am listing below is a very general outline of what usually works for patients after a thorough evaluation to confirm the cause of their symptoms. It may not work for everyone or every case and you should seek a formal evaluation and assessment of your concerns. In general, any time you feel numbness and/or tingling in your face, head or jaw, down your arms, or have an upset stomach, abnormal bowel/bladder movements, please discontinue the exercise and seek professional advice.


If you suffer from acid reflux or GERD, you may have found it hard to find physicians who will do more than just prescribe mediation and suggest diet changes. But certain exercises can actually be very beneficial in relieving symptoms! Improving ailments like acid reflux and other visceral or organ related problems has to come from a full inside out plan. You need to give your organs and nerves a lot of love!

So what causes acid reflux?

Oftentimes, acid reflux is caused by blocked valves or valves that are no longer functioning properly. Dehydration, poor sleeping habits and all forms of stress can play a role in acid reflux.

Additionally, other traumas such as being hit or run into while playing a contact sport can be the culprit of these malfunctioning valves.

What are the common symptoms of vertigo?

  • Heartburn

  • Indigestion

  • Feeling of being unusually full

  • Inability to keep food/drink down

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Gas

  • Irritability

  • Burping

  • Uncomfortable sensation or pain in the stomach, especially when in different positions such as laying down or sitting.

Below are three of my favorite acid reflux related exercises!

Yes, you're seeing that thumbnail correctly. USE A PLUNGER! We are constantly pulling on and compressing our organs and their connective tissues. Plunging is awesome because the tensions or adhesions that lurk underneath can be pulled away layer by layer. This is a great thing to do before diaphragmatic exercises. It creates space in your abdominal cavity so that your organs can mobilize and everything can circulate efficiently.

Wavy gravy is a breathing exercise that utilizes your diaphragm to loosen the nerves under your viscera. The muscles that make up your core are your abdominal muscles like the obliques, deep paraspinal and spine muscles like the multifidus along with the diaphragm and pelvic floor muscle group. Why is this important? The diaphragm is the great compressor and releaser of the organs. Therefore, when you use your diaphragm like in the wavy gravy exercise, you are massaging your organs and therefore those malfunctioning valves. This helps create a better flow and circulation which we call the motility of the organs.

Arch and sag is typically thought to improve spine flexibility, but it also allows the viscera to be mobilized into the correct position. It can also help mobilize the nervous system as a way to help improve the signals going to the viscera. This exercise can alleviate a lot of the discomfort associated with acid reflux.

If you think you have acid reflux or GERD, we recommend getting it checked out by your local physical therapist so that they can formally evaluate your symptoms and prescribe exercises that are right for you!

Remember, we can and we will get better together!

Dr. Justin C. Lin

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