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Getting to the Belly of the Problem

July 19, 2011

Abdominal massage. There, I said it. How does it make you feel when you read those
words? The idea of having someone poke around in my belly makes me cringe and
squirm. Bleah. Most 60 minute, full body massages avoid the abdomen almost entirely
but there are some very good reasons to consider making some time in your bodywork
session for your midsection.

Some of our most important stabilizing muscles are located in the core. Any athlete,
yogi, or gym rat will tell you the importance of strengthening the core muscles, but most
of them wouldn’t consider abdominal massage as part of their usual bodywork session.
Your abdomen is full of crisscrossing core muscles that deserve some attention, too.

Since our core is so important to our stability, what happens if we have an imbalance
in it? Our hips and spine can be pulled out of alignment, for one, which can cause
secondary disfunction patterns throughout the rest of our bodies. Low back pain, for
example, is sometimes caused by a tight psoas muscle, which is located deep in the
abdomen, under the abs that we crunch in core class at the gym. I often see clients who
complain of menstrual or digestive cramping that is alleviated by releasing the psoas.

Another indication for abdominal massage is constipation. A simple, gentle massage is
sometimes all that’s needed to get things moving again, and aide in general digestion.

Scar tissue build up after abdominal surgery can affect the delicate balance of all of
the muscles and fascia in the belly can affect the proper function of the organs inside.
A past hysterectomy, D&C procedure, or lumbar surgery (ALIF) accessed through the
front can leave behind thick webs of scar tissue.

Visceral manipulation, or massage of the internal organs can facilitate better organ function
and overall health and help to alleviate musculoskeletal disfunction and pain as well.

Lastly, since most of us sit a lot throughout the day at desks or in cars, our mid section
is often compressed. Abdominal massage is a great way to stretch out the entire area
and counteract some of the effects of sitting.

Be sure to tell your massage therapist if you are pregnant, have diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or any other digestive problem as well as any surgical implants (surgical mesh, IUD’s, etc) before your abdominal massage.