Health & Wellness Committee: Love Your Belly for Better Health

Margaret Kinnevy, for the Shuttle

Views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily the Health & Wellness Committee, and are not a substitute for talking to your doctor.

What do humans and dogs have in common? They both like to have their bellies rubbed.

Ten years ago, when I first heard of abdominal massage, it seemed like a no-brainer. I knew that improved blood flow and releasing tension can be powerful medicine. I consulted a few wise massage therapists, who told me “Emotions are stored there. I can’t open all that up.” Or “The major organs are there, so I don’t go there. It’s not safe.”

Those were valid considerations, but what a loss. With improved neurovascular flow to the vitals, many functions could be supported with low-tech, low-cost therapy. So I began to teach people how to rub their own bellies safely, and most of them love it.

Amazing Alimentary Canal

The communities of microorganisms in our digestive tract are known as the gut microbiome, which works closely with a well-connected neighbor, the vagus nerve. It wanders like a vagabond, sending out sensory fibers from the brain stem to the visceral organs. The vagus nerve gets into everyone’s business, relaying information to and from the brain. 

The microbiome and the vagus nerve are getting lots of recognition these days as more attention is paid to how things work well within, and how to keep it that way. If something does not feel right, taking care of small perturbations with some self-care will prevent diseases down the line.

Abdomen Anyone?

The abdomen refers to the area that is below the diaphragm and above the bones of the pelvis, and includes all the organs and tissues located within that area. Most call this middle area the stomach. 

Before we eat a meal, or grow a baby in there, the abdomen is already full. The visceral organs are held together loosely by connective tissues that allow them to expand and slide against each other as we bend and twist. They are nourished and cleansed by blood and fluids circulating in and out of all sorts of vessels. The abdomen houses many components of essential systems, including those that govern digestion, elimination, immunity, sexuality, and fertility.

Love Your Belly

As you get to know the workings of your center, and give it the attention it deserves, you may find yourself eating better, moving more, and laughing a lot. You may even start rubbing your belly.

Margaret Kinnevy RN, LAc, helps her patients improve abdominal health by massaging the abdomen and low back. The Health and Wellness March 30 workshop on Belly and Back Health will be held at the Healing Arts Studio in Chestnut Hill at 3 p.m.