Your neck and back aren't the only areas that can get knots--at times, our bellies can be tortured too! Indigestion and bloating is always so uncomfortable, whether it is caused by foods we eat (or overeat), hormones, or stress. Especially in wintertime when we have a tendency to overindulge at holiday gatherings, or to compensate for the cold weather by consuming more calories on the daily, a swollen, painful belly can be a depleting annoyance. Or, when us ladies have to cope with monthly abdominal tension that may lead to water retention, cramps and fatigue, sometimes extra rest, heating pads and ibuprofen just aren't enough. If you think about it, our core is a pivotal part of so many of our routines and behaviors, and it is also a great source of strength for so much of what we do, be it athletic (try practicing yoga with a sore tummy! no thanks!) or generic (sitting up in bed with a strained stomach?), so when something is "off" in our center, little we do feel seems normal or healthy. When home remedies or our patience wears out, and we're still feeling worn out, what's to be done? Actually, abdominal massage is often overlooked by both professionals and patients, but receiving massage to your midsection has so many comforting benefits! Abdominal massage can truly nurture your digestion--the perfect therapy after a day (or several...) of gluttonous eating. By the external touch, your middle organs rouse the internal activity of your stomach muscles to behave healthfully. Those accumulated toxins will be cleared away and all those sensitive nerves in your middle will thank you for the extra care.
What is especially beautiful about abdominal massage is that it is able to treat both the cause and the symptoms--the gentle-but-intentional rubbing of the midsection relieves the stress that causes the tension and the pain as well as relieves the pain itself. Also, unlike other areas of the body that would be impossible (or pretty difficult) to work on yourself, you have easy access to your own abdomen and can even treat yourself. You can try this sitting or lying down, for up to ten minutes: begin on the lower left side of your abdomen and gently rub in small circles in a clockwise motionwith the pads of your fingertips. Move in a counter clockwise motion, continuing your soft and slow touch, until you reach your hip bone. You can then try to lightly continue across to your navel and then finish where you began. Remember to breathe in fully and deeply and concentrate on what you need to relax. Try using different depths of pressure, as different areas will be more sensitive than others. (As always, if you experience severe cramps or chronic pain, talk to your doctor, as it may be a sign of something more serious).