Is Abdominal Massage your digestive system's best friend?
Updated: Jul 29
Your body generally responds favourably to a high quality, caring and professional massage and this includes your abdomen.
Although today most massage treatments concentrate on treating the neck, back, arms and legs and generally ignore the abdomen, this was not always the case.
In the past, Egyptian, Greek, Chinese and Swedish forms of massage used massage techniques such as effleurage, petrissage, kneading, vibration and tapotement to “reduce muscle tension, improve local circulation, soothe indigestion, stimulate the secretion of stomach acid, increase the appetite, stimulate peristalsis, relieve constipation, and lower high blood pressure.”
Your abdomen houses some of your most vital organs, the large nerve junction called your solar plexus, your abdominal aorta (major artery of abdomen), your inferior vena cava (major vein of abdomen) as well as being an important centre for balance and breathe.
From research by the AIHW General Practice Statistics and Classification Unit at the University of Sydney, New South Wales, in Australia there are about 2 million visits to General Practitioners each year in Australia for abdominal complaints.
The most common presentation was abdominal pain followed by gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, constiptation and urinary infection. For more than two-thirds of these problems (68.4%) the GP did not prescribe, supply or advise any medication.
Causes of Abdominal Pain
Causes of abdominal pain include superficial or deep muscle tension, fascial adhesions including scar tissue from surgery or trauma, trigger points, myofascial restrictions, shallow or improper breathing, rib lesions and musculoskeletal injuries which may be helped by abdominal massage. When we feel stressed, tense, anxious, exhausted, emotional or we are over thinking, our abdomens generally tighten. Trauma whether physical, sexual or emotional often affects our abdomen.
If you have sudden, agonising pain in your belly, seek medical help immediately by either calling your doctor, going to your nearest emergency department or call an ambulance on triple zero (000). It may be a sign of a serious illness that requires urgent treatment.
Training in abdominal and chest massage
In my diploma course in Remedial Therapies I received rudimentary training in abdominal massage. I received additional abdominal massage training while studying shiatsu and Ka Huna massage. In 2005 I learnt a form of abdominal massage called Chi Nei Tsang from Jutta Kellenberger a student of Mantak Chia.
The abdominal massage I give now is a form of massage that builds on my formal training in abdominal massage as well as adapting and learning from my clinic experience in massaging abdomens over the last thirty years.
My massage approach is like an enquiry into how all the different tissues of your abdomen feel so you can increase your awareness and understanding of all the feelings in this important part of your body. I found that when your abdomen is massaged genlty and with great sensitivity it naturally wants to let go of any excess tension and contraction. When you feel safe and supported you give your body permission to deeply relax.
When your abdomen is massaged, all your body systems are addressed: digestion, respiration, lymphatic, nervous, endocrine, urinary, reproductive, integumentary and musculoskeletal.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
I would like to share an experience I had with giving abdominal massage.
Over ten years ago a man came to visit me for an abdominal session who had been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). He felt extremely stressed for the last two years and had a bloated stomach with pain in the lower part and both sides of of his abdomen. He was experiencing diarrhoea and lots of intestinal gas. He had dark circles around his eyes and had difficultly sleeping. He felt very anxious, exhausted and depressed. The first two sessions he received a massage to relax his body plus an abdominal massage over the areas of his large intestine and gall bladder.
From his third session, he received an abdominal massage for the whole session. We predominately concentrated on his ascending colon as well as using a pumping technique on his lower ribs to help his gall bladder, liver and stomach. After his fourth session in ten days, he told me that he woke with no pain in his abdomen. The first time in two years.
He changed his sessions to every three weeks and we continued working on the areas over the large intestine, gall bladder, liver and stomach as well as his lower back and over his kidney because of his chronic stress and exhaustion.
As his abdominal area improved its health, I shifted my approach to include massaging his neck, back and shoulders.
After two months and nine sessions, he was feeling great. He was sleeping well and was able to digest his food easily and all signs of irritable bowel syndrome had gone. He was now able to deeply relax during a session. As part of his recovery, he decided to quit his job that was stressful and found a job that he was passionate about. He started making many decisions and taking actions that were beneficial for his health and well-being. I massaged him a couple of times over the next year and his health remained good.
Abdominal massage and diaphragm movement
In my experience when our organs are not working well they generally become hard. Also our organs can be stuck in one place in our abdomen. Abdominal massage treatments can help our organs regain their suppleness and return to optimum movement within our abdomen.
When our organs are supple and are able to move in their optimum space, each time we breathe in and out our diaphragm moves up and down massaging our organs and improving our health. When our organs are hard and stuck, we are not receiving the full health benefits of our breathing and diaphragmatic movement.
If you would like more information about how abdominal massage may help you, please give me a call on 0408 694 655 and if interested book an appointment to find out if abdominal massage could be your abdomen’s best friend.
Are you looking for an abdominal massage in the Byron Bay or Brunswick Heads area? Book an abdominal massage here.