Abdominal massage can be performed as part of a whole body massage treatment, or as a standalone massage, but if you are massaging abdominal scars from surgery Caesarean (C-section) or hernia operations it is worth considering including upper thigh and hip massage.
The techniques applied for stomach massage are quite simple.
Abdomen/Visceral Massage Routine
Wash your hands before you begin and perhaps have a shower or bath either before if you need one, or after to relax
Check for contraindications and precautions
Visit contraindications and precautions page
Gently rub plenty of oil over your abdomen, and other areas you wish to massage
For example hip and chest massage nice complements this massage
Abdominal self-massage can be performed in standing, side-lying or on your back (supine) with your knees slightly bent. Make yourself comfortable!
When laying down your head, neck and upper back should be comfortably supported
This help the muscles and internal structure to relax and make it possible to gentle mobilise your stomach and the tissues below.
Effleurage/rub the oil over the abdomen, up as far as the rib cage, down around the hips and down as far as the pelvic bones
Don't forget to apply oil to the sides of your body. After applying the oil put the Mitts on, a little oil rubbed on your hands will make it easier to put the Mitts on.
Gently stroke in a clockwise direction using your whole hand in contact with your stomach.
The more nodules on the Mitts that came into contact with the skin the better the Massage. Start from the right inguinal area just above your hip bones. Stroke/ effleurage along the ascending colon, slightly under the rib cage along the transverse colon, then down the descending colon to the left inguinal area; this direction is in keeping with the flow/peristalsis movement to the intestines.
Use Stroking movements with alternative hands from the outer borders of the abdomen
Stroking clockwise, moving closer towards the umbilicus should be very gentle then providing there is no pain your pressure can be increased to what is comfortable for you.
Still using the whole of your hands use the mitts on either hand to make small clockwise circular movements, slow and steady
Again start from the right inguinal area just above your hip bones. Stroke/ effleurage along the ascending colon, slightly under the rib cage along the transverse colon, then down the descending colon to the left inguinal area; this direction is in keeping with the flow/peristalsis movement of the intestines.
Wringing strokes both sides (bilateral) from the back and across to the other side, slightly lifting the tissues as you go
This movement is like a 'pushing' and 'pulling' this tissue from one side of the body to another, slightly lifting the tissues as you go.
Stroke the side of your body using either the front or the back of the Mitts from the top of your hips to under your arms pits.
You can also use circular movements here too, try and keep your hands as flat as possible, remember the more nodules on the Mitts that came into contact with the skin the better the Massage.
This movement is very relaxing, apply gentle pressure using either the front of the mitts or the back
Perform gentle stroking, sweeping movements from the the back and side bringing your hands around to the front of your body to the midline. Again keep your hands as flat as possible, remember the more nodgles on the Mitts that come into contract with your body the better and more effective the massage will be.
With these 4 movements use your right hand on the right side of your body and your left hand for the left side of your body.
First place your right hand sideways on so that it lies flat on the body, here you can either use the thumb of the mitts or the pad of the mitts to stroke under the ribs in a circular movement to the belly button. Then the same again from the waist to the belly button anfd finally, then with your hand pointing downwards across your hip up to the belly button. On the left side your hands should point downwards and storke under your ribs to the midline.
Use either hands to massage from the pubic bone diagonally upwards and towards the side of the body to the hips,
Gentle movements are required. Both these movements are performed over a sensitive region, so be gentle. Use gentle stroking movements and light pressure. Then gentle massage upwards from the pubic bone and hipstowards the belly button and under the rib cage.
Gentle circular movements can also be used in this lower abdominal area for relaxation, or to relieve tension from scar tissue.
Do not massage over scar tissue unless it is fully healed. There are many benefits for massaging over healed scar tissue, it helps to improve localised blood flow and tissue oxygenation. It promotes healing and the scars pliability and flexibility to reduce restricted movements. It will aslo helps to regain feeling in the area, decrease numbness, tingling, soreness and will improve the apparence of your scar tissue.
When massaging over the scar you can use a combination of zigzag, stroking, circular and diaganal movements across the scar.
You should start off with very gentle pressure and gradually apply a firm pressure without causing pain.
To finish the massage gentle apply gentle stroking movements from the midline outwards to the side of the body and large circular movements around the stomach/abdomen.
Benefits of Abdominal Massage
Gentle massage with the Mitts will help you to relax and unwind, reduce the tension between viscera (internal organs) and its soothing effect will help reduce painful systems by helping the underlying tissues to relax. Massage with the Mitts increases localised tissue oxygenation, stimulates localised blood flow to help with internal organs and gastrointestinal health and organ function.
Abdominal massage is known to help with constipation, bloating and Irritable Bowl Systems (IBS), but the benefit go far beyond the intestine and it is now considered a valuable treatment in relieving pain from abdominal adhesions, scar tissue and stress.
Reduce Viscera (internal organ) connective tissue tension
Alleviate Stress Related bloating and gas
Reduce internal tension
Reduce pain and tension from scar tissue and adhesions
Improve bowl movements and reduce constipation
Boosts immune system and gut health
Decreases PMS symptoms
We are moving toward a broader understand of how the body is connected and how localised massage can influence multiple systems and the organs within it.
With abdominal massage we are not only stimulating localised physical responses within the abdominal cavity and viscera, we are also increasing biochemical reactions to improve localised tissue oxygenation, hydration and fluid dynamics. Massage will positively assist internal structures to glide between each other and enhance cell to cell communication.
Internal restrictions to our visceral may impact our global body movements to compromise or trigger malfunctions, congestion, and mobility issues in the whole of our body.
Have you ever thought of how tight abdominal muscles and extra pressure from tissue ‘congestion’ is connected to your breathing? The increased tension would cause a downward pull of our diaphragm to restrict inhalation, or how tight and congested structures in our pelvis will influence our shoulder movements.
Our Abdominal-Thoracic Relationship and Abdominal-Pelvic Cavity relationship rely on sliding internal surfaces, flexibility, hormone and chemical production, communication cell to cell and interstitial fluid dynamics.
Effective visceral mobility is an essential to our well-being and gentle self-massage is a simple way to improve and support our body to function.
Who would have thought that so many organs would benefit from such a simple modest ancient technique of self-massage?
- Gall bladder
- Small and large intestines (Duodenum & Colon)
- Bladder uterus
- Perineum, bladder and female reproductive system
- Oesophagus and stomach
- Pleura and lungs
NB. Please remember these techniques are to complement and support your treatments you are receiving from other healthcare professionals and trained therapists, so check with them first before you begin because they may not be suitable for you.
Check our contraindications and precautions before you begin.
Other considerations for the abdomen are –
- Clients with certain gastrointestinal tract disorders or inflammatory intestinal conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and ulcerative colitis, should not receive abdominal massage during flare-ups.
- During pregnancy in is not usually advisable to massage the stomach, pressure could disturb the foetus. If in doubt check with your healthcare professional. But gentle stroking and effleurage movement could reduce abdominal tension after working, or at the end of a long day and you experience increased abdominal tension. You could also ask to be shown or show the partner a simple massage for the low back, hips and legs to help reduce tired legs and swelling.
- Oncology patients may find abdominal self-massage very relaxing and it could be an excellent tool for pain relief and relaxation. It is important to remember we do not massage over an active tumour. for more information on Oncology Massage click on the link.
- During menstruation not all women find massage a pleasant experience but others find it very helpful to reduce stomach and back aches.