Freeing Up Your Gut with Abdominal Massage


By Kevin Kunkel M.A.

The health of your body and mind relies on the health of your gut.  Consider:

  • nearly 80% of one’s immune system is in the gut, placing a large responsibility on our gut for fighting diseases, infections, and illnesses
  • Nearly 90% of the sleep and mood-regulating neurotransmitter Serotonin is made in the gut
  • the digestive system controls our metabolism and our ability to absorb the vitamins and nutrients critical for our health and energy level
  • the gut and brain are intimately connected, with stored emotions, stress, and lethargy in the gut constantly sending signals to influence our perceptions and feelings throughout our day

Obviously, it is critical for our health to keep the state of the gut strong and healthy.

In addition to eating right and taking probiotics, abdominal massage offers critical benefits to reaching your goal of obtaining a healthier gut.

Abdominal massage has several key ways it works to achieve gut health.   With the average american having between 5-25 pounds of toxic waste trapped in their digestive tract, it is crucial for digestive and systemic health to help support the movement of this buildup through the system. The relaxation alone that massage provides to the nervous system can significantly help trigger peristalsis – the involuntary contractions that move food and waste in the intestines.  Through sensitive touch, abdominal massage encourages the lodging free and movement of undigested foods from the walls of the gut.

Through touch and pressure, massage stimulates the organs and increases blood and lymphatic flow to all the tissues of the abdomen.   Toxins are pushed out and the abdominal organs and muscles are flooded with fresh blood flow and vital nutrients, returning vibrancy to the organs and increasing their ability to perform their function of removing waste and maintaining a healthy gut environment.

Abdominal massage releases held emotions, tension, stress that can create blocks and stifle the performance of your gut.  Abdominal fascia and muscles commonly store stress, emotions, and tension just as one commonly feels held stress and tension in their shoulders.  In our modern day, a constant flow of stressors engage our flight-or-fight response dozens of times a day.  With each fight or flight activation, there is an inhibition of activity and blood flow to the abdominal organs in order to put energy and blood towards your muscles and lungs.  The more your stress response is activated, the more constriction is put on the abdominal organs.   Also noteworthy, the more stress we experienced as kids growing up in perhaps hectic or non-nurturing homes, the more we learned to develop patterns of tension in our abdominal organs.  For some, it’s a pattern engaged as adults from morning till night, and all beneath our awareness!  Mindful, strategic touch can release sensitive emotions from the gut tissues restoring their vitality and performance.

Lastly, abdominal massage can include scar tissue work.  Scars heal by pulling everything together regardless of how it was originally layered or connected.  After months and years, a scars pull can be enough to affect tissues far away from the original incision.  Manually breaking up the scar tissue and adhesions can stop the pulling and allow your organs to lay unrestricted in their natural place.

Although people find they can get more relaxed and work through the often sensitive blockages in the abdomen better with the help of a skilled practitioner, an abdominal self-massage done regularly can have a big effect in freeing up your gut.

Pick a flat, comfortable, yet supportive, surface to lay down on where you can be quiet and undistracted for 10-12 minutes.  It is fine to lay with your legs straight, but you will automatically get a deeper abdominal release if you can bend your legs, placing the feet slightly greater than hips width apart, and allowing the knees to fall together and support themselves.

Begin by breathing into a hand placed on your belly, letting go of your day, and becoming present.  Continue to breath into your belly, and I encourage you to maintain part of your awareness consistently on breathing into your massaging fingers in order to further a meditative quality.

You can do this with or without oil or lotion.

With oil: (after rubbing a fine layer of oil around your belly), place the pads of your fingers gently into your abdomen immediately alongside the belly button.  Glide your finger pads around your belly button making a full circle in a clockwise direction.  Continue to make incrementally widening circles as you move around the belly button until you have met the rim of the rib cage, hips, and pubic bone.

Without oil, over or beneath clothing: place the pads of your fingers immediately alongside your belly button.  Press gently into your abdomen and make a small full circular motion.  Lift your fingers up and move 1 centimeter in a clockwise direction around the belly button, where you again gently press in and make a small circular motion.  Continue in this manner moving immediately around the belly button and continuing to move in an ever widening circle around the belly until you have reached the edge of the rib cage and hips.

Repeat by beginning again alongside the belly button and continue until you have done 10-12 minutes.

You don’t need to press deeply to get the benefits of relaxation and encouragement of peristalsis.

If you find a sore spot, gently maintain the pressure there and slowly deepen your pressure as you breathe into the spot.

Try on the attitude of simply making contact and hanging out with any sensitive places, rather than the attitude of trying to get rid of it.

Consistency is key.  Try it out for 11 straight days and see if you are starting to see a difference in feeling lighter and more freer in your abdomen after your massage.

Feel free to email me at with your results or any questions as you practice.

Please also feel free to contact me for information on how abdominal massage may benefit your specific physical or mental health concerns.