I believe that massage therapy can greatly benefit any detox or weight loss program. From personal experience on the receiving end and as a professional bodyworker, I’ve seen many overloaded bodies transform into more supple, aligned, flexible and happy bodies.
As with any detox or weight loss program, big changes from massage do not come overnight. Although it is quite common for a person to feel immediate benefits such as decreased anxiety and stress, decreased pain, a feeling of lightness and looser overall, long lasting changes come from regular bodywork, breath work, and stretching.
Any change, no matter how slight, can add stress to our lives. When we have big expectations of self-transformation, (physically, emotionally, mentally, even spiritually) we should go above and beyond to show up for ourselves for optimal results. Self-care through being a receiver of massage is signaling to your body-mind that you deserve this nurturing touch, that it is okay to let go of old stuff that doesn’t belong there anymore (physical and emotional), and it is showing you a blueprint of yourself from the inside-out. With this increased body-awareness, it becomes easier to make healthful decisions for yourself. I bring up the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects here because it is my belief system that the physical is interrelated with all the rest and you can’t change the physical body without holding compassion for the rest.
From a purely anatomy and physiology point of view, massage stimulates our detox organs and primes them for release. You may have heard before that skin is actually our largest organ, though we don’t usually think of it as an essential organ. It is our protector, our barrier, our first line of defense from pathogens, and also how we engage with the outside world. Nerves fire and receive information constantly on this outer layer to report back to the central nervous system.
Of course there are also important nerves embedded deeper in our colon, small intestine, liver and gall bladder: our guts. To talk to these nerves reflexively can really help rewire the system on a profound level. There can be scar tissue from abdominal surgery, past pregnancies, or fascial constrictions around the diaphragm and organs: all forces that inhibit optimal breath and organ motility, Massage can help move stuck-ness along in the intestines by increasing peristalsis, which is the involuntary constriction and relaxation of the intestinal muscle lining, which creates wavelike movements that push the contents forward and out.
Have you had your belly massaged before? Many feel sensitive about having massage done there, so much so that our abdomens are totally ignored. Even if you’ve had regular massage for years, you might ask yourself, has my abdomen gotten the attention it deserves? I like to think about working on the abdominal muscles, fascia and underlying viscera, the vital organs, as lifting up the hood of the car. Our digestive health is a window into our overall health. Physical touch on our viscera is a sure fast way to support, stimulate and gain awareness of chronic and acute issues.
So whether it be from me or another massage therapist, please consider asking for abdominal massage during your next treatment to stimulate your overall well being.