4 Reasons You Need Abdominal Massage

Submitted by Vanessa Hazzard

Massage Therapy is one of the most accessible forms of self-care. Our first instinct when we feel an ache or pain, is to touch, hold, and/or guard the area. Abdominal pain is common amongst children, adolescents, and adults alike for a variety of reasons. If there is no major medical illness present, massage therapy can help alleviate aches and pains. There are many types of massage and bodywork that have their own approach to abdominal health. Chi Nei Tsang, Thai massage, Mayan abdominal massage, and Swedish massage are just a few of kinds of therapies. Here are a few reasons why receiving regular abdominal massage is beneficial:

Relieves Low Back Pain

Therapeutic massage to the abdomen can help relieve low back pain from various sources. For example, women who experience endometriosis, dysmenorrhea, and other gynecological disorders may have pelvic pain that refers to the low back. Another source is post-surgical adhesions and scar tissue. This may result in weak or inhibited abdominal muscles. This can affect your posture and make low back muscles work harder to support your torso. This additional load to the muscles can cause low back pain.

Encourages Bowel Movements

Peristalsis is the rhythmic motion of the GI tract. It helps moves food through our intestines. Providing circular massage to the abdomen in a clockwise motion encourages peristalsis. This can be incredibly helpful for those with constipation. Constipation is caused by poor diet, not drinking enough water, and in some cases, it may be a side-effect of a medication. Abdominal massage increases the frequency of bowel movements, and can also reduce discomfort and pain due to constipation.

Great for Perinatal Care

Over the span of 40-weeks, a woman’s body changes drastically. The positioning of the growing uterus stretches the abdominal muscles, while displacing the lungs and other internal organs. It also creates a deeper lordotic curve (swayback) in the low back. This shift in posture can cause pain in the hips and torso region. This pain often doesn’t end upon delivery. This is often because the abdominal muscles are weakened. Postpartum abdominal massage can help reduce swelling and speed healing after a c-section.

Encourages Parasympathetic Response

When our body’s sympathetic nervous system or “fight or flight response” is engaged, the blood rushes to our skeletal muscles, our pupils dilate, our heart rate increases, and elimination temporarily slows. This is what happens in our bodies when we are either in danger, highly stressed, or experiencing anxiety. Biologically, our bodies don’t know the difference between being chased by a tiger or being late for work! It responds the same way in either circumstance. Massage therapy stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body to “rest & digest”. This system is responsible for allowing the body to digest food, assimilate nutrients, and eliminate on schedule. Abdominal massage provides non-judgmental touch to an area of the body so commonly neglected. This calms the nervous system and allows your body to relax.

Vanessa Hazzard, B.A.Sc., L.M.T. is an author, educator, and massage therapist with 13 years of experience in the field. She is author of Prenatal Thai Massage: for Relaxation & Pain Relief. Her volunteerism and commitment to mental health and trauma-awareness in yoga and bodywork has landed her features on NPR, Philly.com, and speaking engagements at Drexel University and non-profit organizations. Vanessa has shared her expertise as an advisory board member for massage therapy schools, as well as Belmont Behavioral Health’s mood disorder program. Over the past decade, she has taught hundreds of massage therapy professionals at spas, wellness centers, and retreats. Vanessa has attended International Training Massage (ITM) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and earned her Bachelors of Applied Science in Massage Therapy at Siena Heights University. For classes and sessions, visit www.nirvanalandcontinuinged.com


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