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4 Easy Movements to Exercise Your Liver


Regular exercise is an important component in fighting liver disease. People who are in good shape and exercise on a regular basis not only feel better, but often respond more positively to medical treatment. To people with liver disease, the benefits of exercising are numerous.

Laziness begets disease. Exercise benefits health, especially when battling liver disease. However, there is a happy medium for those who are not ready to train for the Olympics.

When burdened with liver disease, most experts suggest a combination of aerobic and weight-bearing exercise as necessary for optimal health maintenance. While adhering to a regular exercise program is an excellent goal to shoot for, it may feel like an overwhelming feat.

Disciplines often recommended for liver disease, such as yoga, qi gong and tai chi may be so far from someone’s current routine that it is a seemingly unrealistic objective. We have removed the enormity of beginning these activities by choosing four liver supportive movements that are:

  • Easy to learn
  • Simple to perform
  • Do not require a major commitment
  • Can be done lying down and sitting in the privacy of your home

Once you become comfortable doing these moves, they can easily become a joyful part of your daily routine. Performing these liver moves will have you noticing an improvement in how you feel in just a few weeks. Upon recognizing your power over liver health through movement, regular exercise will become the next logical step in caring for yourself.

Why the Emphasis on Exercise?

Regular exercise is an important component in fighting liver disease. People who are in good shape and exercise on a regular basis not only feel better, but often respond more positively to medical treatment. To people with liver disease, the benefits of exercising are numerous:

  • Exercise gives people a general sense of well-being and improved self-image. Feeling good mentally strengthens the immune system, which gives the person an edge in fighting against liver disease.
  • Exercise gives people a boost of energy. The most common and bothersome symptom of liver disease, fatigue may be due to the heart and liver’s need to work harder to keep an adequate supply of filtered blood in circulation. Through enhancing blood circulation efficiency, exercise boosts energy levels.
  • Exercise reduces total body fat. Being overweight puts an additional burden on the liver. When total body fat is reduced, fat content in the liver is simultaneously reduced, often resulting in a significant reduction of elevated liver enzymes.
  • When an exercise causes contraction and relaxation in the mid-section, your organs get a workout. This physical activity tones the liver by increasing its ability to fill and drain at maximum capacity. Through maximizing its circulatory capability, the liver is better able to resist liver tissue atrophy.

4 Simple Liver Moves*

To create movement in the liver, your attention is best focused on the physical organ itself. Located just below the diaphragm, primarily in the upper right side of the abdomen, the liver primarily lies under the ribs. If it is inflamed, the liver will protrude down below the ribs. Additionally, the liver extends across the middle of the upper abdomen partially into the left side of your upper abdomen. While envisioning the liver, work with these four movements to enhance this organ’s health:

  1. Pressing – While lying on your back, feel your liver with the fingers of both hands by pressing gently up and under your ribs on the right side. In this position, the liver can be easily moved and tensed because the abdominal muscles are relaxed. Create pressing movements under your ribs and upwards. Do these pressing movements twenty times and increase daily until you reach 100 or until your condition permits.
  2. Press and Rub – Lie on your right side and place your left hand over the area of your liver. Position yourself with the head slightly inclined forward and with the knees bent. This will relax the abdominal muscles and place the liver forward. With your knuckle of the thumb or the pad of a finger, press well under the ribs and massage the liver.
  3. Striking – Percussion, or light thumping of the liver supports the healthy activity of the liver. Lie on your left side, which inclines the liver forward and the muscles relaxed. With your right fist, strike lightly but rapidly on the area. Begin with 20 strikes and increase daily up to how many your condition permits.
  4. Trunk Turning – Sit upright with legs crossed, overlying palms on lower belly. Turn trunk to left and right 15 times. Begin turning from side to side gently, and if your health allows, do so forcefully. Then in a centered position, join hands with fingers interlocked and push palms forward 8 times.

Once accustomed to regularly performing these four simple moves, consider adding daily morning stretching and deep breathing to your routine.

Time of Day

Stretching and deep breathing exercises early in the morning provide the most benefit for anyone with a sluggish liver. According to Chinese medicine, the liver works hard to filter our blood between 1 and 3 am. If the liver is congested, a considerable amount of blood may still be retained in the liver when we wake up in the morning. Early morning exercises help most in bringing the blood out of the liver and into circulation.

Just because you can’t imagine doing an hour of yoga and running two miles every morning, doesn’t mean you can’t exercise your liver. Starting with these four simple liver moves can get you realizing the benefits of inner organ exercises, without much time or energy demands. In addition to giving your liver an edge in preventing the advancement of liver disease, these moves will also prime you for wanting to embark on a daily exercise routine.

*Editor’s Note: Consult with your physician before beginning any new movement or exercise program., Exercising the Liver, Ismael D. Tabije, September 2005., Reducing Stress, Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation, 2007., Conquering Chronic Diseases without Drugs or Surgery,, 2007., Exercises for Your Liver,, May 2005., The Importance of Exercise for People with Liver Disease/Hepatitis, Melissa Palmer, MD, 2007., Liver… the Largest Gland in the Body, Leslie J. Shoenfield, MD, PhD, MedicineNet, Inc., 2007., Weight Loss and Exercise Improve Liver Disease, Gut, February 2004., The Remedy Routines: Discharging Turbid Substances From the Liver, Qigong Association of America, 2007., Exercises for Strengthening Internal Organs, Shelter Publications, Inc., 2007., Liver Qigong, Perry Lo and the Shou-Yu Liang Wushu Taiji Qigong Institute, 2007.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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