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Do you avoid basic 'belly-work'...even with pregnant clients?

I've found many workshop participants are uncomfortable performing hands-on abdominal work, i.e., pelvic and respiratory diaphragm releases and sometimes even superficial belly techniques. This seems particularly true when working with pregnant clients/patients.

Do you feel belly-work is under-emphasized in massage trainings? Does the area hold too much emotion or possibly too intimate for some? I've written a short e-newsletter & posted a video showing some basic useful structural techniques that allow for proper draping @

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Comment by Darcy Neibaur on October 15, 2009 at 8:25pm
I also massage my own belly almost every night before bed with Lavender Lotion. Something visible that has happened is my stretch marks have almost disappeared. Interesting.
Comment by Seth McLaughlin on October 15, 2009 at 8:16pm
I studied Maya Abdominal Massage with Rosita Arvigo in Belize. They do abdominal massage during the second and third trimesters to ensure that the uterus is properly placed for the best delivery. There are also ligamentous corrections that are done to help balance the pelvis. I've had great success with it.

Almost every treatment I do involves some abdominal massage. If the diaphragm is tight, food, lymph, blood, and qi flow is restricted. Where blood can't flow, energy can't go...I've also found that reflux symptoms and hiatal hernias resolve quickly with abdominal massage. I teach my clients self massage techniques to complement the therapy they receive.
Comment by Erik Dalton on September 29, 2009 at 5:05pm
Yes, Geo:
Seems like every time we teach a class and the subject of hiatal hernias or acid reflux arise, therapists are curious about their relationship and how/if they can help. Without delving into the treatment techniques used in the Myoskeletal Method, a “fly-by” description of this common condition---often referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or chronic acid reflux---is important for every therapist to know.

GERD is commonly due to transient or permanent changes in the lower abdominal sphincter (LES). The LES is a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that acts like a valve between the esophagus and stomach. Pressure build-up from a hiatal hernia can weaken this valve preventing complete closure. Hydrochloric and other gastric acids mixed with undigested foods in the stomach may rise up into the esophagus and the food or fluid can sometimes be tasted in the back of the mouth. When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus it may cause a burning sensation in the chest or throat (heartburn or acid indigestion). Persistent reflux that occurs more than twice a week is considered GERD, and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems. Surprisingly, people of all ages are candidates for GERD.

As you mentioned Geoffrey, hiatal hernias and GERD can often be helped with prolonged therapy aimed at pushing the stomach down through the tear in the diaphragm allowing it to heal.
Comment by Geoffrey Bishop on September 29, 2009 at 10:56am
Wanted to thank you again for the in depth discussion this weekend at AMTA National you presented about hiatal hernia, prolonged stressors,and how we as bodyworkers can address the condition when properly informed and armed with proper techniques.

I have bout ten people who come in on a regular basis, one of the techniques they always request is "Can you push my stomach back down today" Often we start a session that way, pushing the gut back in place, to bring relief so the rest of the session can progress without that nagging abdominal discomfort.

Sadly, it is difficult, at best, for many of these folks to make the lifestyle changes needed to fully address the problem i.e.; diet, exercise, stress load, etc. However, as I stated, I feel we as bodyworkers can help to generally improve someone's quality of life by being armed with proper technique, such as specific belly work when indicated. Thanks dude! Appreciate all you do.....
Comment by Erik Dalton on September 29, 2009 at 6:57am
I love belly work. The more you do...the more applications you find ...both posturally and functionally. With our society of Nexium gobblers, all therapists need to develop basic skills for unwinding twisted diaphragms and prolapsed colons. Lot of people getting belly lifts and stomach straps these days leaving scars that inhibit proper lymphatic drainage from the pelvic floor.
Comment by Bert Davich on September 29, 2009 at 2:11am
Although I went to a school that did teach belly-work to every student, I believe most therapists avoid it because It takes more practice for a therapist to become comfortable doing belly work and clients can read the confidence and comfort level of a therapist. and. I was fortunate enough to take an optional 100 hour Zen Shiatsu course with my initial training and the "Hara" (stomach) assessment training made belly-work comfortable for me. I have found that stomach work is useful for expirational breathers and most clients that will benefit are fine with it if the therapist is confident and able to convey to the client why it will be to their benefit.
Comment by Erik Dalton on September 28, 2009 at 5:10pm
Funny stuff....get any photos?
Comment by Amy Quartermaine on September 28, 2009 at 5:02pm
During the abdominal class I took, the translator was the "pregnant" massage dummy by extending his rather ample belly to simulate ninth month pregnancy.
Comment by Erik Dalton on September 21, 2009 at 11:48am
Most mid-wives I've met are strongly opposed to C-sections except in emergency situations. I believe any alteration of the natural birthing process may lead to developmental issues later in life.

Although most of us have seen some pretty wierd infant craniums even during a so-called natural delivery, it seems obvious that allowing normal fetal movement patterns (engagement, flexion, descent, rotation, restitution and expulsion) will lead to a better outcome and a happier Mom.
Comment by Zac Carter on September 19, 2009 at 12:30am
So.. would a C-section be a better form of delivery? I spent some time in Venezuela and they did alot of those there, never really understood their belief for doing it.

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