Abdominal Massage Techniques

By Jeanne Troncao, MS, LMT ; Updated July 18, 2017

Massage is well known as a relaxation and pampering treat. It also has health benefits. Massage can benefit the digestive system by stimulating digestion, relaxing the digestive organs and increasing blood flow throughout the system. Abdominal massage techniques vary depending on the type of massage being used, yet they all work to improve digestion and elimination. Consult with a medical professional to learn if massage is right for you.

The Digestive System

The digestive system begins with the mouth and ends with the anus. Digestion begins with the first bite of food and is completed when solid and liquid wastes leave the body. The digestive system includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines. Digestion can be slowed or interrupted by stress, tension or ailment. Massage helps to move food through the digestive system, aiding all processes of digestion and nutrient absorption. Abdominal massage is concentrated on the stomach, small and large intestines, and the muscles surrounding these organs.

Mayan Abdominal Massage

Mayan abdominal massage originated in Central American as part of the Native Mayan healing system. It is done on both the abdominal area and lower back. This form of massage uses slow, deep strokes to relax the muscles of the abdominal area and low back. Focus on these areas is intended to improve blood flow to the digestive and reproductive organs and balance the body’s healing energy.


Shiatsu, meaning finger pressure, is a Japanese form of massage using finger and thumb pressure along meridian lines. Meridian lines are the paths through which Chi, the body’s life force energy, flows. Abdominal massage is part of a whole body shiatsu treatment. Shiatsu abdominal massage consists of pressure applied to shiatsu points in the abdominal area. The pressure varies from light to firm depending on the body’s needs.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage began in the 1800s with Swedish gymnastic protocol developed by Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish health practitioner. Over the years, Swedish massage has been modified and is now the most widely practiced form of massage in the United States. Abdominal massage is usually part of a full body Swedish massage. This part of the massage uses rhythmic and circular movements on the abdominal area to increase blood circulation, stimulate digestion and relax abdominal muscles.

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