Well what the heck, I've been working on handstands and my GERD went away. I also lost weight so I attributed it to that, but this might be part of it. "after beginning daily LES exercises, I noticed that I could bend over at the hip and pull weeds in my garden without acid running into the back of my throat" - At the start of training headstands I'd have reflux so I had to do them at the right time of day to not make it terrible. Over time this went away and I'd have to eat a full meal right before to feel the same now. I wonder if I trained this muscle similarly.
I remember being a kid and thinking that animals that bend down to drink from a pond must be forcing the water to travel up their esophagus. Hmm, I wonder if humans can do that. So I filled my mouth with water, did a head stand, then swallowed. Yes, no problem. Newfound respect for my body that day.
> Gastroesophageal reflux results from weakness or relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) . Personal experience with this problem lead me to think about it, repeatedly.
More seriously: Is there something about a modern diet or lifestyle that tends to cause this weakening? Or have anatomically-modern humans just always had a similar rate of reflux, for this reason?
Uh, there's likely more than a few confounders here, which are, at a minimum, undocumented in the report. Intuitively, one would expect lower caloric consumption with altered eating habits, which would lead to decreased fat and decreased intra-abdominal pressure. There's also no test of LES function prior to initiation of the experiment, so no delta was actually measured.
There's also a bit of misunderstanding, I suspect, in the pathology report: 0.2 x 0.5 x 0.3 cm is a perfectly reasonable size for an esophageal biopsy, and it was almost certainly measured with a ruler like (1) or (2).
I've passed this to a GI friend to get their thoughts, but suffice to say, more study is required before making this any sort of recommendation.
Note that there's also a less known type of Acid Reflux called Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR), also known as Silent Reflux, which doesn't manifest with "usual" symptoms like heartburn or a sour taste in mouth, but instead with symptoms like sore throat or hoarseness. For a long, long time I didn't understand why so often after eating my throat was full of phlegm and I had to constantly clear it, I thought it has something to do with paranasal sinuses because I rarely experienced symptoms commonly associated with Acid Reflux, but after some research I found out about the Silent Reflux so I modified my diet and the symptoms mostly disappeared.
As someone who has gerd it’s worth a shot. Little bummed to see there was nothing about controlling for at least diet.
Title isn't completely accurate, as the author states they were kneeling bent-over, creating an incline for the food to travel up. That being said, I've never thought of the esophagus was a muscle that could be trained. Very cool!
Edit: there's a 6" riser that the author describes kneeling on, while their head is then lowered closer to the floor, supported by their arm(s).
I'm sorry this comment doesn't add much to the discussion, but all I can think of is the South Park episode where Eric eats with his butt.
One likely cause that's not mentioned so far, is that paradoxically the stomach doesn't produce enough acid. The sphincter usually closes when the stomach begins digestion, but this only happens if a certain pH threshold is reached. There are some receptors in the stomach that detect this pH level and signal the sphincter to close. The lower acidity output is typically caused by unhealthy diet and frequent meals. To fix it, apart from reducing the frequency of meals, you can ingest more acid, in the form of vinegar or lemon juice. This is counterintuitive but I can confirm it works, it helped me a lot to mitigate the problem.
I cured my acid reflux by taking antibiotics to kill off an H. Pylori bacterial infection, which apparently affects 30%-40% of the US population.
This is one of those posts that could change my life. Thanks for sharing. Sorry to not add to the discussion but I have terrible acid reflux and sometimes it feels like it runs my life. I often don't sleep well because of it.
I'll definitely give this a shot.
The important bit:
> The resistance was provided by positioning my head below my stomach in a kneeling posture. This required food being swallowed to be pushed up an incline. I began eating part of each breakfast (oatmeal) and sometimes lunch (a sandwich) in the exercise position. I would kneel on a platform (which happened to be 6 ½” high), take a normal mouthful, chew it as needed, and prepare to swallow. I would then lay my forearms and the backs of my hands on the floor, rest my head on my hands, and complete the swallowing process. With a little practice, I was soon able to initiate and complete the swallowing process with my head resting on my hands on the floor. I did not attempt to determine what the optimal height of the platform might be or if, indeed, any was necessary.
In case this helps someone, GERD can be caused by a bacterial infection by H. Pylori. (According to the Wikipedia, the frequency of infection is at >50% but most people never experience any symptoms.) It was getting worse after eating a lot, eating certain foods , just like for many other commenters here. After getting rid of the infection the symptoms disappeared and never returned.
The link to the diseases caused by the bacteria has a crazy discovery story I encourage everyone to read
I wonder how big the risk of choking with this exercise is. Be careful!
Clever & sensible.
One potential concern with this would be the possibility of 'upper airway obstruction(s)' (aka, choking). Not necessarily because this position is inherently problematic*, but because it would be a novel position to consume food** in (to presumably most people) and it's a position that most people are likely not used to in the present day, period (i.e., we usually sit up, lie flat, etc., we aren't typically in orientations like this for any real length of time, if at all).
Seems like a clever way to exercise an area that is not easy to exercise in any typical way, but I'd strongly advise caution and awareness of potential aspiration / choking issues if trying it out, at least in initial trials.
* In any anatomical way I can think of off the top of my head
** I would avoid trying to consume liquids in this position, at least initially - aspiration is far easier with thin liquids etc. The author seems to focus on food, in any case.
I've had reflux for 10+ years, and noticed that in the last 2 years, it hasn't really bothered me. I was attributing it to a dietary change (went from mostly vegetarian to vegan), but at the same time, I also started working out with a personal trainer. He loves to have us doing plenty of things with our feet above our head (push-ups with feet up on a bench, burpees, but kicking up on to a bench). My reflux bothered me during workouts at first, especially if we worked out in the afternoon instead of first thing in the morning. But, now I never have reflux issues working out, and rarely have them when sleeping...
Isn't a full solution, but changing from belt to suspenders helps an unreasonable amount for me. If folks want other things to try.