What is abdominal massage?
It is a clockwise massage over your abdomen (tummy) that takes 10 to 20 minutes. It aims to relieve constipation and can be done in most positions – lying, sitting or standing.
How can abdominal massage help me?
Abdominal massage can:
- reduce the need for long-term laxative medication
- help to relieve flatulence (wind) and/or constipation
- make it less likely that you will need to come into hospital due to bowel overloading and associated health problems.
- Improve circulation to abdominal cavity
- Release muscle tension in abdominal region
- Improve function of the gut thereby improving immune system
Abdominal massage is not for people who have:
- a history of malignant bowel obstruction or an abdominal growth
- a history of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- spastic colon (not to be confused with spasticity of the abdominal wall) experienced in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- an unstable spinal injury
- recent scarring or abdominal surgery
- If you have an IUD, ask your doctor if it is safe
- You should not use abdominal massage if you are pregnant.
- If you have an abdominal hernia-hiatus, umbilical or inguinal, massage can be used but with care.
- Ask a doctor or nurse if you are unsure about any of the above.
How to massage your stomach
It’s natural to rub your abdomen when you have a stomach ache. However even when not experiencing pain, any form of abdominal massage, however basic, is extremely comforting.Although you can massage your abdomen while sitting up, it is much more relaxing if you lie down. Lie somewhere comfortable, with a small cushion or pillow under your knees so that both your back and abdomen are relaxed.
Always use a clockwise motion when massaging the abdomen as this follows the workings of the intestine; this can help to relax the abdomen, which, in turn, can aid digestion.
Place one hand on top of the other and start to move your hands in a clockwise direction around your belly. Lift one hand over the other in a continuous flow, starting around your right hip bone, moving up to right below your right rib cage, then moving left beneath your ribs, and then down towards your left hip bone. Only use a light pressure to your comfort level, keeping the motion slow and relaxed. Repeat this step 3-10 times, slowly increasing pressure to your comfort level.
Apply static and circular pressures all around the abdomen, following the outline that you traced with your strokes in step one. Use one hand on top of the other, or the palm of just one hand, depending on how much pressure you want to apply. Repeat for 3-10 cycles, slowly increasing the pressure with each repeat, only as much as it is confortable
Bend your knees over to your left and knead the right side of your abdomen with the fingers and thumbs of alternate hands. Rhythmically pick up and release the flesh wherever you can, then bend your knees to the right and knead the left side. Repeat this step for 3-5 cycles.