Therapeutic Massage – FAQs

Some practitioners will work on the floor on a firm mat and only expose the belly otherwise keeping the rest of the clothes on. Other practitioners prefer to work on a massage table and be able to access other areas of the body if needed. If you have other areas of the body besides the belly that you would like addressed, please let your practitioner know this.
It is fine to eat a light meal up to an hour or so before receiving this work. This time frame is being conservative, just do not eat a large meal as it will not be comfortable for you and the practitioner will not be able to work all of the areas that they normally could access.
Absolutely yes. This is an excellent time to receive the work, and many people report a large change if not a complete elimination of menstrual cramping and discomfort after belly massage.
Yes, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Detoxification, emotional release and all sorts of interesting things can happen with belly massage. The word “crisis” connotes a bad thing, and it’s important to see the event of release as welcomed relief from years of holding onto things that are no longer supportive, – sort of “out growing” something that is no longer needed.
Many people report that their old scars from surgery still ache, especially with a lot of exercise, movement or heavy lifting. Others report that things have never felt the same after their surgery like they were cut off from certain parts of themselves. Specific scar work and general belly work will help to soften and lengthen the scar tissue itself as well as increase the mobility of the surrounding tissues. The actual scar will never disappear, but the old aches, tightness and loss of sensation often change for the better.
Although massaging the belly is not new, many massage therapists choose to work on the muscles and joints of the body and skip the belly altogether. At the Tummy Temple, we believe in the importance of the belly and respect all of the work that the organs do for us everyday, and so we have chosen to make this area of the body our focal point.
Many times the practitioner will roll over “lumps and bumps” in the belly that may feel odd at first. Generally those sensations are the intestines being rolled over. If there is some tenderness, it may mean that there is adhesion or holding patterns that your practitioner has discovered. It is good to breathe here and really notice what those sensations are like. Generally the discomfort is fleeting.
You have several choices here, but we will always review your goals for the work and check in about any treatment plans that have been agreed upon previously. You will be asked to breathe into your belly and feel the movement of the belly with the breath.

Different kinds of work will focus on different organs and different tissues, but the large intestine and liver will always be addressed in order to help the body release toxins and eliminate them when the bowels move. The work can feel both gentle and firm, and you should always be able to feel the specific tissues that are being worked on with your practitioner.

Sometimes people will feel sleepy and doze off during the work, and that is just fine. Other times you will be very awake and aware, but comfortably enjoying the session. Many people will feel some amount of discomfort in certain areas of the belly where there are areas of tension or old holding patterns that are releasing. Be sure to let your practitioner know if the work is too deep, or you just need things to go slower for a while.

Some practitioners will work through the sheet for some or all of the session while others will undrape the belly and work directly on the skin. For females, the chest is always covered with a pillow case or a towel.
Rest is always a good idea after belly massage, especially if the work brought up a lot of emotional or energetic charge, or if there is some discomfort. A hot bath with Epsom salts and the Detox Formula Bath Salts available at the Tummy Temple will also help to eliminate toxins and take soreness out of the tissue. Any tenderness you may experience is generally gone in 12 to 24 hours. If the discomfort persists longer, please call the Temple and discuss this with your practitioner.
Special Note: Please do not wear perfumes/colognes, strong oils, scented lotions or smoke before coming in to the Tummy Temple.

For 2 hours prior to session:

  • Refrain from eating a lot to avoid a full stomach.
  • Avoid caffeine.

For 1 hour prior to session:

  • Now is a great time to eat something small to cap off your hunger and avoid low blood sugar.

For the 15 minutes prior to session:

  • Start relaxing and letting go of the stress of the day. Try to arrive early so that you may sit down for 5-15 minutes prior to the session in the comfortable waiting area to listen to the water fountain and calm your nervous system. Know that you are coming in for a wonderful therapeutic experience and life is about to get better.

Clothing Suggestions:

  • You may receive your massage with or without clothes on.
  • Sheets and blankets will be used to ensure your privacy and comfort if you choose to not wear clothes.
  • If you would like to wear clothes then please wear loose fitting clothes, especially around the waist.
  • Please make sure to wear clothes that you do mind getting wrinkled.
  • Massage oil is used during sessions. If you are wearing clothes, oil may get on your clothes during a session. As well, the oil on your skin will come in contact with your clothes when you put them on after the session. You may ask for the therapist not to use oil, however this will affect the massage and some techniques will not be possible without the use of oil, eg. cupping.
  • We do have tan colored T-shirts that may be purchased for $5 if for any reason you are concerned about oil getting on your shirt.
You should feel lighter and longer in the trunk and abdomen with a sense of more movement and more awareness in the whole abdominal space. Many people report that this feeling stays with them for a few days. You have just allowed someone to touch you to the core and released at least some of the tension that has been bottling up there for some time. Enjoy this new feeling and the openness and expansiveness of your new belly.
Belly massage is always contraindicated whenever a full body massage is contraindicated. High fever, acute pain, open or just healing wounds and surgery incisions are the major presentations that will contraindicate belly massage (i.e. we would advise against a belly massage).

Belly massage is indicated for the three following conditions:

  • Abdominal trauma which can include surgery, chronic inflammatory conditions and chronic pain syndromes. All of these conditions will produce adhesion within the belly which if not addressed can decrease the functioning of the digestive system, produce bowel obstruction and pain, and can also affect muscular holding patterns and the way that we breathe. Belly massage assists the patient with finding more awareness around these holding patterns and breathing pattern changes, helps create more elasticity in scar tissue and other connective tissues that surround all of the organs, and increases the circulation of blood, lymph and energy in order to feed all of the organ systems more effectively.

    Belly massage is also an excellent way to prepare for surgery by increasing circulation to all of the organs and decreasing recovery time, pain and inflammation. It is indicated to wait 4 to 6 weeks after surgery to resume this work to soften scar tissue, move congested lymph and detox the liver from anesthesia buildup.

  • Assist with a full body detox. The choice to undertake a light or deep cleanse is so important in this modern culture where we come into contact with environmental toxins, heavy metals, air and water pollution, medications, and hormones in our food supplies on a daily basis. The liver processes these toxins and either eliminates them with the bile production, renders them inert with certain chemical processes or the body stores them in various tissues. By helping to drain the liver, move lymph and increase blood circulation to all of the organs, belly massage can assist the body’s own clean up process.
  • Relax and de-stress. Belly massage is an excellent way to access and relax the nervous system through breath work, changing muscular and fascial holding patterns and simply slowing down and paying attention to all of the amazing things that abdominal organs do for us everyday. Swedish massage, cranial sacral work, myofascial releasing, and other forms of bodywork applied to the belly will assist with this process.
The navel is our first scar in the body as well as the window to the entire fascial system of the guts. The peritoneum is the name of the connective tissue that wraps and surrounds all of the organs in the abdomen, and we can access pieces of this wrapping or “bag” when we work around the rim of the navel. Many times the belly will “gurgle” or make other interesting noises when the navel is being manipulated. This simply means that holding patterns are unraveling and movement is returning to the organs in the belly.

These are all good things. Old familiar pain patterns will also sometimes emerge from this work with the navel. This is an excellent opportunity to gain more awareness about the way the body has been compensating over the years.

The core muscles have gotten a lot of attention recently in certain movement and exercise programs like yoga, Pilates, martial arts, tai chi, and others. What they all refer to is the musculature which wraps our trunk and supports our lower spine and pelvis.

Holding patterns in the deep core muscles, as well as the superficial muscles of the trunk and spine can make one feel twisted and compressed and often manifests as lower back pain, and a hard impenetrable belly wall which constricts the breath and the general motility of the organs.

Belly massage definitely helps regulate bowel function, but we have never seen any mishaps on the massage table. The work is very gentle and all occurs externally so the amount of stimulation to the nerves that facilitate bowel release will not go haywire while you are receiving belly massage.

Sometimes gas will be released while receiving this work, but this is much different. It is a good idea to just let the gas pass on out.