I have found so much relief in learning how to massage my own abdomen.
I’ve gotten myself out of cycles of lower back pain and anxiety, and my core is the strongest it's ever been.
As a college athlete, I looked strong on the outside, but I lacked core stability and was completely disconnected from my core. In fact, I spent most of my time “sucking it in” so my stomach didn’t look bigger than my small boobs.
When I became a yoga teacher, I slowly started to unravel my nerves from stressful tension through stretching and deeper breathing.
When I became a massage therapist, I learned that, yes, becoming a better breather definitely helps. But sometimes, tissue is wound so tight that the only way to get relief is through physical manipulation.
Why massage is beneficial for tension relief
The body is smart. It will adapt around whatever repetitive movements or positions you perform. If you have spent a long time doing a certain action, like sucking your tummy in, connective tissue will form to reinforce and protect that area - but this makes it tighter and weaker.
Tightness and weakness in the tissue creates knots which restricts movement. Tight tissue can even pull bones out of alignment, which can lead to physical discomfort, pain and even injury.
When the tissue gets “locked” in a certain position, massaging the tissue is often the most effective way to change the tissue shape.
The Core Container
Along with housing all our internal organs and processing everything we consume - the core stores a lot of energy and emotion.
Emotional wounds and trauma get stored in the core, so it’s an area we naturally want to protect.
Because so many of us are consciously or unconsciously trying to keep ourselves “safe,” the layers of the abdomen can become stuck to each other in a protective response.
The core also connects to our spine, so as layers of the core get tight it pulls on the spine and can cause a lot of back pain.
Another common form of sticky tissue layers is scar tissue. If you've ever had a baby or an abdominal surgery, you know how scar tissue forms to protect the area.
All these walls of protection can cause us to become so disconnected that the core often becomes unresponsive to physical training.
Benefits of Self-Massage
Getting a massage once a week would be ideal, but it is not practical for many of us. And not all massage therapists are intuitive enough to be able to work with your nervous system and identify exactly what your body needs.
With self-massage you are in complete control.
You can go as slow as you need to. You can choose to spend more time on certain areas and find the exact angles you need to get relief.
Being in control of pressure, pace and depth does wonders for your nervous system because it makes you feel safe. And when you feel safe, your body can unwind from stress and tension.
Self-massage will help you reinhabit the layers of your core and reconnect with your abdomen from the inside out.
How to perform Self-Abdominal Massage
Please keep in mind:
- Go slowly and be gentle - spend time in any tender or especially tight areas, but do not force it. You will benefit most from kindness and tenderness.
- Breathe - you should be able to breathe slowly and deeply the entire time. If you find yourself holding your breath or tensing, you are pushing too hard.
- Discomfort versus pain - there will be areas in your abdomen that feel uncomfortable. The invitation is to pause and breathe in these areas. If you feel pain, back off and only reenter if you can slowly and gently.
Self-Abdominal Massage with your hands:
- Lie on your back with a pillow under your head
- Using the pads of your first 2 fingers, massage around your belly button beginning in the bottom right, in a counter clockwise direction around to the left.
- Begin gently.
- Slowly increase to larger circles and deeper pressure
Self-Abdominal Massage using a rolled up towel:
- Roll up a large towel into the shape of a hamburger bun
- Lie on your stomach with the towel under your belly
- Begin with the towel closer to the right side of your abdomen - take 5-10 slow deep breaths
- Slowly move the towel around the the left - pausing to breathe slowly in any tender spots
Self-Abdominal Massage using a coregeous ball:
This is one of my favorite tools to use for self-abdominal massage.
The grippy-ness of the ball does a wonderful job of gently grabbing the connective tissue as you move and breathe - which helps release tension.
Instead of writing out directions, I created a video.
I hope you find this helpful and are provided with a new connection to your center.
Hi, I’m Jessi!
For the past 10 years, I’ve been helping people of all ages & fitness levels connect to their core strength through beginner-friendly breathwork. As a Holistic Fitness Trainer, I not only train people’s bodies, I also help them reframe their relationship with movement to one that fuels consistent mental well being & physical vitality.
My goal is to provide accessible health & fitness tools in a welcoming space. There is no one-size-fits-all approach - but, there are building blocks that we all can use to create stability & awareness that will help us function with strength & confidence.
My coaching style focuses on strong foundations of body awareness & stabilization. I combine techniques from Yoga, Pilates, Strength Training, Massage Therapy & Mindfulness to craft well thought out, customized training plans to support your human experience. To read more about me, click here.