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Is Your Hard Stomach Why You’re Sick? Part 2

English: Abdominal muscles on a woman's belly.

This article is about what you can do to treat abdominal tension discussed in the previous article.


The key to turning around visceral problems due to soft tissue tensions is getting the tissue to release. If the problem is recent, subtler therapies like acupuncture and visceral manipulation may be all you need. But if the problem existed for years and the abdomen is hard, a more direct therapy like abdominal massage or Rolfing will yield more results.

I have seen amazing results with both acupuncture and the gentle visceral manipulation taught by the French physician Jean-Pierre Barral. Many years ago I took one of Dr. Barral’s first classes that he taught here in the U.S. When the abdomen is relaxed, the slightest pressure from a skilled hand can release the tension around an organ allowing it to resume normal functioning.

There are massage therapists who teach abdominal massage. Many of these massage techniques come from oriental massage practices such as Thai massage.

Rolfing focuses on releasing the chronic stress held in the fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds muscles and organs) to align the body. As the new fascial research is proving, the fascial system of the body is a huge, inter-connective web. For example, a leg injury can set up back and abdominal strain. Recently, I saw a client because she had gotten an infection in her big toe; she walked off-kilter for days and ended up with back and neck pain.

A Rolfer’s goal is not only to remove the direct and indirect strain, but to educate the client on how to relax to guarantee that the problem not only leaves, but never returns. The amazing thing about soft tissue is that it will release. The trick is getting it to release so the body reorganizes to prevent the same or another problem. When that happens there can be many positive unintended consequences such as women who blamed not having their menstrual cycle on running having them return.

Whatever therapy you choose, you will also need to consciously practice relaxing your stomach. As easy as that might seem, it will take some practice relaxing and some intent to let go of our cultural belief that a hard, tight, and muscular abdomen is desirable.

Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advance Rolfer,, 32 yrs experience – call if you have questions: 265.8440.

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