How does it work? Abdominal massage can:
Increase circulation and move lymph
Bodywork in general increases circulation and lymph in the body, but abdominal massage focuses all that goodness in the abdomen. Lymph is the fluid responsible for moving metabolic waste. It can accumulate in the body for various reasons. Moving it specifically in the abdomen can be a great way to start the detoxification process in the body. Increasing circulation in the abdomen helps to pump fresh, oxygen-rich blood to the area and can help with organ function and tissue health/repair.
Break up physical tension and restrictions
Abdominal massage addresses the connective tissue that surrounds and holds the organs in place. It works to break up adhesions and/or scar tissue that can result from surgeries in the abdomen, organ dysfunction, postural patterns, and much more. These restrictions over time can pull on the organ and restrict function as well as cause compensation patterns that reverberate out into the body creating pain and tension. In this way, loosening the tissue around the organs can affect tension and pain patterns in other areas of the body, as well as give the organs more freedom of movement to function efficiently.
Help get things moving (or not moving)
This is one of my favs. Abdominal massage is great for chronic constipation, as well as diarrhea and/or alternating diarrhea and constipation lovingly called constorea. This kind of treatment would focus on the small and large intestine to regulate peristalsis, the involuntary muscle contractions that moves food through the digestive process. Chronic constipation or diarrhea is often a result of peristalsis that is happening too quickly or not quickly enough. Abdominal massage stimulates this function and can help to retrain the body to do it on it’s own at a balanced rhythm.
Chronic constipation or diarrhea is also often linked to stress. Stress puts the body in “fight or flight” mode, which slows down normal body functions, allowing you to react quickly to the stress. It’s possible to get stuck in a continuous state of “fight or flight” response when there is chronic stress, which in turn creates a continuous state of slowed digestion (along with other body functions). Abdominal massage (and bodywork in general) helps to shift us out of the “fight or flight” response and into “rest and digest” mode which allows us to digest our food more effectively.
Move stuck emotions
The abdomen can be a place where we hold deep emotional tension. All of the abdominal massage modalities that I practice understand that specific emotions are linked to each individual organ. An organ can be affected by an emotion and an emotion can be a symptom of an organ’s dysfunction. Working on the abdomen can be a great way to release any stress and emotional tension that is being held there. Breath also comes into play here. When under stress many people breathe more shallowly. I like to include breathwork into my sessions as a way to help client’s release and grow awareness for that area of the body.
Tonify sluggish organs
This is a little more woo, but basically what I’m trying to say is that spending time on a specific organ and holding the intention of healing for that space can do a lot to help promote healing, balance, and optimum function. The abdomen is an area of the body that for most of us is mysterious, overlooked and/or gets a bad wrap because it rarely is the shape that we want it to be. Sending some extra special attention to this area can be huge and have profound healing.
In addition to focusing on the organs and the connective tissue around them, there is also musculature in the abdomen that can affect organ function and is connected to hip and low back pain. So many reasons to include abdominal massage in your next bodywork session!
Abdominal massage can be booked as a session on its own, or included in a full-body massage or shiatsu session. Just let me know what your goals are and we'll tailor our time together to your needs!