What is Abdomen Massage
The abdomen houses vital organs and is a very important part of the body. The abdominal cavity comprises of the stomach, diaphragm, colon, small intestine, liver, pancreas, and gall bladder. The health of the abdomen lies with the stomach, the digestion process and reproductive organs.
The peristaltic waves of the alimentary canal (The muscular contractions of the alimentary canal in wave like fashion move contents toward the opening) begin in the upper stomach and continue down through the rectum where fecal matter is eliminated. In a healthy person, such a wave starts every 20 seconds during digestion. But, when the digestive system is unable to actively digest a meal peristalsis waves slows down. Ideally, the peristaltic waves must be able to flow uninhibited through the entire digestive tract in order to ensure the proper functioning of the intestines.
When the digestion process is inhibited due to illness, malabsorption or inactivity due to a stagnant lifestyle the abdomen undergoes immense stress from the muscles (attached from the spine to the pelvis for support) and the well connected fascia (sticky-like layer between skin, fat and muscle )network that hold the organs within the abdominal cavity. Such stress in the abdominal area may lead to pain in the sides, lower back pain, inguinal and joint pain at the pelvis. Sometimes, even the ribs may get affected.
Other problems related to the abdomen include: abdominal disorders like IBS (Crone’s or Ulcerative Colitis), spastic colon, chronic constipation, dislocation of female reproductive organs and problems caused by dislocation such as miscarriages, infections, premature birth, weak new borns, backache, difficult menopause etc…
Hence, the abdominal massage is highly effective remedy in removing obstructions, correcting dislocations and restoring the harmonious flow. Abdomen massage helps open the abdominal cavity and release the fascia so the organs can lay unrestricted in their natural positions in the abdominal cavity.
Benefits of an abdominal massage
The key benefits an abdominal massage can provide include:
1. General improvement in blood circulation benefits the blood vessels in the abdominal cavity.
2. The veins transport the blood depleted of oxygen to the heart more quickly and the arteries respond by supplying the body cells with freshly oxygenated blood.
3. The liver, the gall-bladder, and the pancreas receive a large share of oxygen and nutrients and release their metabolic waste products such as carbonic acid into the bloodstream.
How does one render an abdominal massage?
Here are some basic guidelines to an abdominal massage
An abdomen massage requires the person to lie on their back, knees supported by bolsters. The abdomen is left exposed for the therapist to massage, with the chest and pelvis draped to the comfort of the person. The therapist begins the massage by warming the fascia, employing strokes from the descending colon, around to the transverse and then to the ascending colon. The therapist assists the release of the connective network, and often frees the bowel to perform its function naturally.
Warm castor oil or regular massage lotions are favored lubricants for this type of massage. Heat may also be applied for a better result though it is not necessary. An abdominal massage can be done specifically or along with a full body massage.
Incase of self massage, it is advisable to do an abdominal massage in the mornings and evenings while lying in bed for about 15-30 minutes. With regard to self massage, it is believed that the effectiveness of the massage depends upon the sensitivity to the upward and downward movements (expansion and contraction) of the abdomen. Which means it is important to use softer strokes and light pressure on the abdominal walls and one can intensify the massage strokes with gentle vibrations during the exhalation when required.
As a practice, keep the strokes in tandem with the breath because stimulating the diaphragm will not only enhance the abdominal massage but also encourage deeper abdominal breathing. During inhalation, the hands should follow the expansion of the abdomen. During exhalation, the hands must move along with the contraction. Remember: the pressure applied by the hands is almost zero while inhaling, whereas it intensifies in pressure when exhaling.
Just before exhalation, draw nine circles counter-clockwise with the right hand on the right side, followed by nine circles clockwise with the left hand on the left side. Then exhale. The pressure should be just enough to move the skin lightly. The circles should only be as large as the stretched skin permits.
The circular motions push the abdominal wall against the intestines. Be sensitive to the strokes and notice the soft structure of the intestine underneath the abdominal wall. Unless one is able to feel the intestine, one may not be able to experience the benefits of the massage.
Continue to draw the circular motions with both hands such that both the hands move towards each other. The right hand moves counter-clockwise, the left hand clockwise. Both hands are moved from the lower outside region of the abdomen to the center. Once they reach the center the hands are moved upward, then to the sides and downward. Thus, each hand draws one circle on the right and one on the left side of the abdomen.
Complete the abdominal massage by combining the circles with gentle vibrations. These soft strokes stimulate the entire intestine. One can continue doing so for three to five minutes. It is also advisable to take a 3-5 minutes break between strokes applied to the abdomen.
Other Known Abdominal Massage Therapies
With the success and popularity of massage therapies various traditionally followed techniques have come to light. Some such known therapies used to treat and massage the abdomen include:
1. Mayan Abdominal Massage: A traditional Latin American form of abdominal massage which treats all problems related to the abdomen for men and women.
2. CNT: or Chi Nei Tsang is an abdominal massage therapy from China also known as a healing massage developed with the objective to ease digestion and eliminate toxins and create a free flow of chi or energy in the body.