Massage Therapy Center Blog

Unwinding The Belly

lymphatic drainageThe main muscle of breathing, the diaphragm, works differently than the other muscles of the body. It lies on a lateral surface under the rib cage, and during a proper inhale it moves down, increasing the pressure in the abdomen and massaging the viscera. The increase in pressure below the diaphragm creates a vacuum in the lung cavities. Air rushes in from the outside to fill this void. When the diaphragm moves down, the deep lobes of the lung—the parts with the most surface area—are supplied with ample oxygen, and chi, as the chi or vital force rides on the breath.

The navel is the imprint of the bridge that once existed between you and your mother. Across this bridge you received nutrients and expelled waste. And your entire body developed as an extension from this pathway, growing from your navel outward. The adult body still uses the navel area as a pathway for the influx of nurturing energy and the efflux of waste. Also, current patterns of tension within the body follow the patterns of early growth, from the navel outwards. And every part of us is linked via the connective tissue web which begins and ends at the navel.

So we can see how natural it for wastes to gather at the navel and belly. By making contact and gently stimulating the skin and muscle that forms the navel, we encourage the toxicity to rise up from the underlying tissues of the belly and be expelled. When tension at the surface is released, there is space for underlying tension to percolate up to the navel.

Unwinding the Navel: With two fingers pick a spot on the rim of the navel (remain on the rim not inside the navel). Without lifting your fingers, make slow rhythmic circles. After you have felt and nurtured that spot with at least several rotations, move slightly clockwise to another point on the navel rim. Finger-circle at this new spot, gently, slowly, while breathing into your belly. Be sensitive to any sensations of tension or areas of discomfort. Work those areas a bit more, gently, with breath, and with loving kindness.

Lymph Pumping: Work at a place to the side of the navel, about the width of four fingers away. At this place you can dip in deeper and stimulate the abdominal lymph nodes. Use both hands, alternating. This should be very relaxing and stimulating at the same time. Breathe deeply into your belly as you do this. You will be able to sink, without pushing, approximately two or three inches deep, depending on your size and your level of tension.

Just below the surface abdominal muscles, the belly is literally covered with lymph tissue, and with this technique, you stimulate it into action. The fluid in the lymph contains waste products from all the cells of the body. When it is stimulated it travels toward the lymph nodes that are deep within the abdomen. Within the nodes, the fluid is filtered of wastes. The deep pumping encourages this filtration process. The only thing that gets this process going is movement. This removes the sluggish sensation we get when we don’t move enough during the day. The lymph literally is waiting for its source of movement to do the job of filtering out the toxins so that the natural vitality of the body can shine through. ~ Allison Post and Stephen Cavaliere, from Unwinding the Belly

The rhythmic strokes and pressure applied to muscles, tissues, and organs during therapeutic massage help stimulate the circulatory systems and waste removal. It works like a sponge: When pressure is applied to the tissue and fat, toxins are literally squeezed out from between the muscle fibers and cells, and they’re released into the lymph and blood for elimination. This is why it’s so beneficial to get bodywork on a regular basis. We’re here at Massage Therapy Center Palo Alto to help you feel your best and experience life more fully!


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