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Let’s Talk about the Tummy

By Lisa Buchan, 12 July 2017


Now that I have your attention.....the tummy, abdomen or specifically in this topic the area from the bottom of the front ribs down to the pelvis, has got to be the most neglected part of the body when it comes to massage.


Why you ask?


My thoughts are as follows;

-          Most pain is felt in the back or the hips so that’s where you want treated

-          You may be unaware of the anatomy of this area, the benefits of treatment and how it can help

-          Perhaps some are a little sensitive to having this area worked on, feel a bit vulnerable and self conscious

Anatomy – what’s going on in the front?

-          fascial connective tissue – everywhere!

-          muscles such as

o   Psoas Major and Iliacus which are hip flexors (Pic C)

o   The diaphragm

o   Obliques, Rectus Abdominus, Transverse Abdominus (Pic A)

-          the digestion system (Pic B)

-          and possibly scar tissue  ie. c-section surgery, appendectomy etc


Like the chest area, which we won’t cover today, the front of the body is often in a crunched up, folded forward position, which creates rounding and closing up of this area. It’s great to work on the back where a lot of tension is and where the pain is usually felt but having the front of the torso released, especially the fascial and muscular components, can help take the load of the back of the body and bring you back into balance. Tension in the muscles/fascia can pull the abdominal area out of alignment and put stress on our other organs.


In our super busy lives, constantly on the go, our digestive system can come under a lot of stress too. We see this in the increasing amount of incidences of bowel disease and disorders, intolerances and discomfort. Gentle massage techniques working on the intestine can help restore normal function of these muscles to aid in eliminating waste and gas, along with looking at your diet and lifestyle. As many of you are aware massage can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which helps relax the digestive system, that’s the gurgly stomach you often get when having a massage, so take it to the next step and get more specific treatment.


Psoas Major (see Pic C) attaches to the front of the vertebrae so when tight this can pull on your spine creating dysfunction. Iliacus (Pic C) attaches to the inside of the front of the pelvis and when tight can create an anterior tilt in your pelvis creating even more load on your spine.

The obliques and rectus abdominus (Pic A) which when overly tight cause pressure on the internal organs (we all want these nice and toned but still need to have functional length). And of course all these muscles can have annoying trigger points that refer elsewhere.


Top Tip: ask us to show you a lovely cobra stretch to open up this area, as long as conditions in your spine allows.

   A         B


Then there’s the diaphragm, which is the muscle of respiration, which basically enables you to breathe, good thing to have that functioning well.


Top Tip: Learn how to breathe diaphramatically by lying on your back with knees bent and letting your stomach rise and fall and your lower ribs expand.


Scar tissue from surgery or injury can cause a dysfunction in the muscles ability to function normally as the muscle fibres can’t contract and relax properly. Some nice slow work on this tissue may help restore flexibility in these fibres.


So there you have it, a bit more information about what’s going on at the front. Talk to your massage therapist about how treatment on any of these areas can help you. It doesn’t have to be deep or painful, perhaps a little strange to start with but we can ease in until you feel more comfortable. You are in control.

I personally love yoga for opening up these areas and improving my breathing!


Image credits

Pic A: Doctortipster.com

Pic B: Pinterest

Pic C: wildyogi.info

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