As manual and massage therapists, we are rarely trained to work effectively in the belly. And yet, correct abdominal massage can provide true relief for conditions as diverse as constipation, abdominal adhesions, bowel obstructions, post-surgical pain or dysfunction and countless other ailments in the belly.
While learning to work effectively and safely in the belly should be ensured with care and a serious desire to learn, it is also not rocket science. Any practitioner with a desire to connect with their clients' bellies in a supportive and helpful way can begin by bearing in mind a couple of fundamental things:
1. You must be connected to your own belly. Working with other people's bellies, especially when they are suffering from chronic pain, can be a roller coaster. If you do not know what it is like to receive healing myofascial work in your own belly, it is better not to practice on others until you do. The good news is that even if there is not a practitioner near you, you can practice on yourself! We all must be able to work on ourselves and receive belly work in order to pass it on to others.
2. You must fully understand the contraindications for practicing belly work on others. While life itself is an indication for belly work (I challenge you to find a single person without some kind of adhesion in their belly), there are some serious reasons NOT to work in someone's abdomen. Among those reasons are abdominal aneurisms, active flares in Crohn's and other inflammatory conditions of the gut, surgery in the previous twelve weeks unless they have been specifically released by their doctor to receive the work, open or seeping wounds or scars, and excessive abdominal pain . To learn more about indications and contraindications, you need to take instructions and / or classes from respected, long-time practitioners or programs.
While these two things are not everything you will need to know in order to be both safe and effective in the belly, they are the starting point from which you can begin to understand how to move forward with this work.
As a long-time practitioner, I can tell you that this is deeply rewarding work. The people who seek you out for this work will provide you with more learning and growing opportunities than you can imagine, and every minute you spend learning about the miracle of the belly and the abdomen will be a minute well spent.