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Expert advice: taking care of your health through abdominal self-massage

Expert advice: taking care of your health through abdominal self-massage

Too often forgotten, the abdominal-self massage technique is one of the keys to our well-being. Let me enlighten you on this practice and its benefits.

Origins

Abdominal self-massage, called “do in” in Japanese, has its origins in traditional Chinese medicine. Centuries ago, the Chinese practiced it in order to relax the body and the mind, to restore the free flow of energy and to promote the elimination of “waste” from the body.

Benefits

Massaging or self-massaging your belly is known for energizing and balancing the metabolism, while being quite relaxing. On the physical level, it promotes bowel movement during constipation, it improves slow and laborious digestion, it reduces the frequency and intensity of acid reflux and it relieves flatulence and abdominal bloating. At the mind level, it slows down mental activity and controls stress since our belly and our emotions are connected. According to Eastern theories, undergoing chronic stress or negative emotions – such as anxiety, anger or fear – causes energy tensions and obstructions that can disrupt the organs. In summary, abdominal massage relieves digestive discomfort and soothes emotions.

Basic recommendations

You can review some basic anatomical notions – as described in my book or in the video below – to become familiar with the abdominal area. When you better understand the complexity of what’s happening inside your belly, it’s time to move from theory to practice!

The advantage of self-massaging is that you can do it alone and you can do it at any time of the day, whether in the morning to get energized, or in the evening to relieve the stress of the day. The technique is done directly on the skin (with or without massage oil) or over a light garment. You can also practice self-massage on a yoga mat, in your bed, in the tub or even while watching TV.

Guidelines

When belly massaging, use simple gestures with your fingers or thumbs. Gently apply pressure while rotating as far as it feels comfortable, then release gradually. The idea is to pay attention to what is happening under your skin by browsing the organs or specific points of tension.

During your exploration, you will find that some areas of the abdomen are soft, while others are tense and more sensitive. Adjust the pressure of your fingers according to how you feel in order to release the tension. The massage can be short (5 to 10 minutes) or longer (15 to 20 minutes), depending on how much time you have and depending on your needs. For example, you may want to work on areas of tension for longer than other areas. Finally, remember that the positive effect of self-massage is in symbiosis with breathing. In other words, take the time to calm down and let your breath guide and calm you.

Here is the video of a self-massage technique described in my book Massage du ventre et philosophie orentale pour tous, published by Éditions de l’Homme.

About Noémie Gélinas

Title: Massage Therapist & inventor of the Lomi-Atsu Massage

Renowned massage therapist, Noémie Gélinas is the author of the book Massage du ventre et philosophie orientale pour tous. She is the inventor of the Lomi-Atstu massage (in which belly massage is a fundamental component) taught at the Kiné-Concept Institute in Montreal.