Written by Megan Jett
There are many reasons why abdominal massage should be included in your next massage. Not many people are aware of the benefits of abdominal massage or the technique itself. I’m here to tell you why the organs should not be ignored, what those benefits are, and how you can do some home care massage for yourself.
The term “trust your gut” has more meaning than you may think. Did you know that your stomach has its own nervous system? It’s called the enteric nervous system, or ENS. This visceral motor system controls involuntary functions. The canal that leads all the way from your esophagus to your stomach, to your colon is lined with sheathes of 100 million neurons—that’s more neurons than in the spinal cord! These neurons are what give you that butterfly feeling deep inside. The ENS is also known as the second brain because it can still function independently of the brain and the spinal cord. It’s estimated that 90% of the body’s serotonin lies in the gut, as well as about 50% of the body’s dopamine. That’s a lot of emotion! Knowing all of this paints the importance of relaxing this area of the body.
The benefits of massage are being seen more and more each day; there are also great benefits of abdominal massage. Livestrong has a great list, which includes improving digestive efficiency, detoxing the intestines, stimulating the organs, and improving circulation. Sometimes the sliding surfaces of the organs stick together due to inflammation, general lack of movement, and poor fluid circulation. Massage can help relieve some tension and discomfort that comes with that; however, abdominal work isn’t for everyone. You should avoid this technique if you are pregnant, have gallstones, kidney stones, calcium deposits in your bladder, hernias, or stomach ulcers.
If you want to try this technique at home, it’s very simple. The hands should be warm and moving clockwise. Starting up the right side, across the top (below the ribcage), down the left side, into the ascending colon. Practicing this form of massage on yourself promotes body acceptance. The physical touch and positive energy you are giving yourself will help you feel more confident about an area that is commonly shamed through society.
Abdominal massage can also help with infertility. According to the National Survey of Family Growth by the CDC, 1 in 8 couples struggle to start a family. Infertility issues can be stressful; stress can alter the brain signals to the hormone center. Getting a massage can help reduce anxiety and may help the brain send out reproductive hormones necessary to tell the ovaries when to release an egg. It promotes circulation to the uterus and can help break up scar tissue.
Adding abdominal massage to your sessions has the potential to alleviate much more than digestive issues. If you have more questions about abdominal massage specifically for you, ask your Massage Therapist.