Don’t Underestimate the Value of a Butt or Belly Massage!
No, it’s not kinky. It’s also not weird. It’s not inappropriate or unimportant, either. The muscles of your hips, buttocks, and abdominal area make up the very core of your being. If you’re interested in all the potential therapeutic benefits of massage (as opposed to the “fluff” and “feel good” aspects), then why would you intentionally choose to exclude these areas? Perhaps you’re only UNINTENTIONALLY excluding these areas because you’ve always felt that removing your underwear for a massage was inappropriate. In either case, you need to read this article!
Modesty is a sensitive subject for most people. In my effort to prevent awkwardness during your visits to the spa, which are supposed to be relaxing, comfortable and inviting, I generally choose not to address these issues verbally, because of the risk that my good intentions could be misinterpreted by some as confrontational or demanding. You may have noticed a sign in the treatment room which briefly explains how to get the most out of your treatments, but I have observed that this sign goes largely unnoticed by most of my clients. Since this is such an important topic, I wrote this article in order to ensure that you have the information you need in order to make informed choices with regard to your treatments.
Benefits of Butt & Belly Massage
If you are not getting your butt and belly massaged on a regular basis, then here is what you’re missing out on:
- Relief and/or Prevention of Sciatica: The piriformis muscle is the muscle that runs horizontally from your sacrum (tailbone), under your gluteal muscles, and to the top of your femur (your upper thigh bone). The sciatic nerve passes directly through this area, as well. The belly of the piriformis muscle (the “belly” being the largest and most accessible part of the muscle) is directly in the center of your butt “cheek”. Failure to treat this area during your massage puts you at a much greater risk of experiencing sciatica, which is pain in the lower back and butt that may or may not radiate down your leg. Sciatica results from an impingement of the sciatic nerve, either by a misaligned spine or by muscle tension in the area of the piriformis. Massaging the butt relaxes the entire back and hip area, releasing pressure from the sciatic nerve, relieving and/or preventing this type of painful condition.
- Relief and/or Prevention of Lower Back and Hip Pain: Lower back and hip pain are almost always a direct result of tension in any or all of the pelvic muscles. These include the hip rotators (including the piriformis and psoas), the hip extenders (gluteal/butt muscles and hamstrings/back of thigh), the hip abductors (the outer thigh, including the TFL and IT band), the hip adductors (the inner thigh), and the hip flexors (including the psoas, which is a deep, lower abdominal muscle, and the quads/front of thigh). Failure to treat any of these areas puts you at a greater risk of developing lower back or hip pain. If you already have lower back or hip pain, you are unlikely to experience complete or lasting relief if these areas are not treated.
- Lymph Drainage: The highest concentration of lymphatic drainage sites are located in the lower abdominal area. The entire lymphatic system works together, as a single unit. If even one small area of the lymph system is missed, then your lymph system is not being fully stimulated. If this area is not treated and it is congested, the entire lymph system will be compromised.
- Benefits to your Digestion, Metabolism and Immunity: All of your organs of digestion and elimination are located in the abdominal area. If you have interest in stimulating or improving your digestion or your overall metabolism, it would be ridiculous to exclude the abdominal area from your massage. Since digestion, metabolism and proper lymph circulation and drainage play such a very large role in your immunity, abdominal massage can improve your immune response and keep you healthier.
- Ease of Breathing: The diaphragm is a muscle membrane that spans the lower rib cage and assists the lungs by pulling them open during inhalation. During exhalation, the diaphragm relaxes and allows the lungs to deflate. When the diaphragm becomes chronically tense, your lung capacity decreases, and your body has to work harder and your rate of respiration must increase in order to compensate. It can happen so gradually that you may not even notice that you are short of breath until the diaphragm is suddenly released and you experience an ease of breathing. Massage of the upper abdomen is a great way to release the diaphragm.
Energy and Strength: The core of your body is your power-center. Without a strong, solid core, the rest of your body is useless. As with all other areas of the body, massage improves strength, blood circulation and performance of your core muscles.
There actually is one very good reason why you might choose to refrain from having certain parts of your body massaged, and that is in cases of extreme ticklishness. If you have areas on your body that are extremely ticklish, then you may not be able to control your body’s urge to tense up all the muscles in that area during treatment of those areas. Not only are these muscle spasms uncomfortable, but they also inhibit your ability to receive therapeutic benefits from the treatment in that area, because a massage therapist is unable to penetrate into a flexed muscle and effectively perform the work. If he/she tried to get into the muscle anyway, you are likely to experience excessive soreness after the treatment, which defeats the purpose.
Try this: Because of the importance of massage in ALL areas of the body, however, I would encourage you to try this: In some cases, ticklishness will subside after repeated exposure to firm touch. As long as your massage therapist is aware, he or she can use firm-but-gentle pressure in your ticklish areas – just enough to get you accustomed to the touch, but not enough to torture you – during each of your treatments to see if your ticklish response begins to gradually subside. For some, it will, and for some, it won’t. Try it at least 8-12 times before you give up, but honor your body’s needs if it just isn’t cooperating with your efforts. Also try having your massage therapist work through the sheet before making direct skin-to-skin contact, and see if that helps.
Here is a trick that almost never fails: Did you know that it is impossible to tickle yourself? It’s true – try it and you’ll see! Whenever I have a client on my table who is extremely ticklish, and is willing to give this a try, I do it, and I can’t recall a single time that it has failed. I have the client place his/her hand over the area, with fingers spread out. Then I work through the clients open fingers. It seems that the body can’t tell which touch is yours, and which is the touch of another person. I have been able to successfully complete necessary work with no interference by uncooperative muscles using this method.
Any touch is better than no touch. If you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work for you, you can still receive therapeutic benefit just from the simple act of touch. Your therapist can place an open hand over the area where you cannot tolerate massage, and simply hold it there without moving. This won’t do much to relieve muscle pain or tension, but it will still serve to stimulate blood and lymph circulation, regulate blood pressure, and provide many other subtle benefits.
Transformations Wellness Holistic Therapy Center Policy
At Transformations Wellness Holistic Spa, my first priority is you – including your comfort, modesty and boundaries. Any articles of clothing, jewelry or other obstacles left on the body are regarded as boundaries. At any first-time visit to my spa, when giving a new client instructions for getting on the table, I always state, “…everything comes off, start face-up/down, under the sheet…” If this prompts questions, I go into a more in-depth discussion. If not, I simply leave it at that. Regardless of whether a client follows my instructions, I proceed without further question or discussion. It is my strict policy to observe all boundaries set in place by my clients. I will never ask you to remove any article of clothing that you are not comfortable removing, nor would I insist on treating any area of your body that you are not comfortable having treated, despite the benefits I might know you’ll be missing. Therefore, if you leave your briefs on for your massage, you will not receive any hip, butt or lower abdominal treatment at all. The ultimate purpose of this article is simply to inform you of the benefits you may be missing out on, so that you can make an informed choice about what (if anything) you choose to wear under the sheet on the massage table during your treatment.
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns with regard to any aspect of your treatment, please do not hesistate to call, e-mail or ask me at the time of your appointment. I will be happy to discuss sensitive topics, such as this, with you in greater detail, if you bring it up.
Skin-To-Skin Contact vs. Working Through Fabric
Upon your request, I certainly will work on any muscle THROUGH your clothing or through the sheet. However, don’t make the mistake of believing that this is an equal substitue for skin-to-skin contact. You will still receive therapeutic benefit from the work, but it is impossible for a massage therapist (at least for me) to adequately assess trigger points, subtle energy imbalances or shifts in your flow of energy through fabric. I would be simply “going through the motions” without having any idea what’s going on in your body underneath the obstacle. (It would be the equivalent of asking your dentist to fix a cavity with a blindfold on – he might be able to get the job done, but the end result will certainly not be the same!) For best results, remove ALL your clothing.
Watch these great anatomical videos:
Piriformis Syndrome Video – this video is a fantastic anatomical illustration of the piriformis muscle. It explains, in plain english, how the piriformis muscle can cause a variety of buttocks, hip and leg pain. You can easily see why access to the gluteal area is critical for treating and preventing such ailments.
The Psoas – this video clearly illustrates the location of the psoas muscle (which is a hip flexor, accessible in massage through the lower abdominal area), and explains how this muscle contributes to low back and hip pain.
Article written by Chahna www.transformationswellness.net. © 2016. All rights reserved.