Abdominal Massage :
Techniques and Healing Benefits

Abdominal massage is one of the massage techniques that is helpful for constipation or chronic bowel disorders, PMS, fertility, and also for infants colic.

Similar to Chi Nei Tsang, the massage involves specific directional strokes and kneading movements to the abdomen, often followed by a type of light vibrational therapy.


For Colic  - In massage for infants with colic, the goal is to help to eliminate the gas and to relax the digestive system to relieve pain.

The therapist will do abdominal massage on the tummy of the baby, followed by stretching and bending the legs.

For Constipation - Massage techniques for constipation stimulates the small intestines and helps encourage elimination of waste and regular bowel movement.

For painful abdominal problems such as PMS, the therapist may use cold massage stones. Read more about the use and benefits of cold stone massage for swollen, inflamed areas.

For Fertility

The main goal of massage for fertility is to totally relax the body and create more blood circulation to the reproductive organs.

Infertility issues can be very stressful, and fertility massage techniques can help to decrease your anxiety level.

Many woman search for therapists who have training in fertility massage. For those who want to try something noninvasive and avoid drugs, this alternative therapy is often the answer.

Stress levels tend to alter signals to the brain's hormone center. Because of this, the brain may not send out the reproductive hormones necessary to tell the ovaries when to release an egg, interrupting normal ovulation cycles.

Since stress has been shown to interfere with getting pregnant, reducing stress, with massage, can improve the odds of conceiving.

What to expect

The practitioner may recommend an upper body massage, with most of the time concentrated on the abdomen area.

During the course of the treatment, the therapist may ask the client to bend the knees upward in order to relax the muscles in the abdominal area. Kneading movements with the hand and fingertips, as well as deep, circular motions may be used.

You may be advised to not eat for at least two hours before having this treatment. Also, make sure you use the bathroom beforehand, as the vibrational motions will really encourage the need to go.

The therapist may use the knuckles of both hands for some deeper pressure. He/She may also discuss strengthening the abdomen with exercises such as sit-ups or crunches.

Many of the same movements of regular relaxation massage that are applied to muscles of back and neck will also be used when applied to abdomen.

All of our abdominal organs have a fascial support system called peritoneum – a wrapping structure that holds each organ and its blood, lymph, and nerve supplies in place. This set up is much like the walls of our home which hold onto utility wires and plumbing pipes.

Other Benefits:

  • Relaxes the Nervous System -
    Manual therapy in the belly helps move the nervous system from a stressed and contracted state (sympathetic) to a more relaxed and dilated state (parasympathetic). This transition is critical for proper digestion and transport of material through the GI tract.
  • Enhances blood supply - 
    Better blood circulation to our organs in general means we digest and absorb our food more efficiently and transport nutrients from our small intestine into blood and lymph vessels more effectively.
  • Improves the function of our reproductive system - 
    The male and female reproductive systems are complex, and many of the functions of these systems can be optimized with manual therapy including fertility, and pelvic organ disorders, to name a few.
  • De-laminates adhesion - 
    All of our organs move and slide against each other in response to the movement of the diaphragm with each breath cycle, while walking and moving, and while under the force of gravity. 

Sometimes these sliding surfaces stick together because of inflammation, post-surgical adhesions, a general lack of movement, or poor fluid circulation. Abdominal massage can find where these points are located, and actually improve mobility.

Abdominal massage should not be performed if you have any type of inflammation or infection in any area of the abdomen, (bladder, kidney, stomach, intestines, uterus, ovaries, etc.), or if you are pregnant, have hypertension or internal bleeding.

This DVD, Medical Massage for the Abdominal Wall - 2 DVD Set by Ralph Stephens is a 2 DVD set, with a 2+ hour training for those who want to learn how to massage abdominal muscles to relieve inflammation and pain.

It shares techniques and information to help you effectively examine and massage this region, with both relaxation and more clinical techniques. This DVD includes detailed info on how to provide both pain relief and postural correction, and is mostly comprised of hands-on technique demonstrations which are easy to learn.

This is a short clip of one of the massage videos: 

Other Resources

Read more about IBS and massage therapy at Alaska Institute 

For whatever reasons you seek abdominal massage treatment, you will soon discover the natural healing power of massage therapy for common issues that many native people have known about for centuries.

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