Self-Abdominal Massage: Relieve Back Pain, Reduce Stress and Increase Core Strength

I have found so much relief in learning how to massage my own abdomen.

I’ve gotten myself out of cycles of lower back pain and anxiety, and my core is the strongest it’s ever been.


As a college athlete, I looked strong on the outside, but I lacked core stability and was completely disconnected from my core. In fact, I spent most of my time “sucking it in” so my stomach didn’t look bigger than my small boobs.


When I became a yoga teacher, I slowly started to unravel my nerves from stressful tension through stretching and deeper breathing.

When I became a massage therapist, I learned that, yes, becoming a better breather definitely helps. But sometimes, tissue is wound so tight that the only way to get relief is through physical manipulation.



Why massage is beneficial for tension relief


The body is smart.

It will adapt around whatever repetitive movements or positions you perform. If you have spent a long time doing a certain action, like sucking your tummy in, connective tissue will form to reinforce and protect that area – but this makes it tighter and weaker.

Tightness and weakness in the tissue creates knots which restricts movement.

Tight tissue can even pull bones out of alignment, which can lead to physical discomfort, pain and even injury.


When the tissue gets “locked” in a certain position, massaging the tissue is often the most effective way to change the tissue shape.



The Core Container

Along with housing all our internal organs and processing everything we consume – the core stores a lot of energy and emotion.

Emotional wounds and trauma get stored in the core, so it’s an area we naturally want to protect.


Because so many of us are consciously or unconsciously trying to keep ourselves “safe,” the layers of the abdomen can become stuck to each other in a protective response.


The core also connects to our spine, so as layers of the core get tight it pulls on the spine and can cause a lot of back pain.

Another common form of sticky tissue layers is scar tissue. If you’ve ever had a baby or an abdominal surgery, you know how scar tissue forms to protect the area.


All these walls of protection can cause us to become so disconnected that the core often becomes unresponsive to physical training.



Benefits of Self-Massage

Getting a massage once a week would be ideal, but it is not practical for many of us. And not all massage therapists are intuitive enough to be able to work with your nervous system and identify exactly what your body needs.


With self-massage you are in complete control.

You can go as slow as you need to. You can choose to spend more time on certain areas and find the exact angles you need to get relief.

Being in control of pressure, pace and depth does wonders for your nervous system because it makes you feel safe. And when you feel safe, your body can unwind from stress and tension.

Self-massage will help you reinhabit the layers of your core and reconnect with your abdomen from the inside out.



How to perform Self-Abdominal Massage

Please keep in mind:


      • Go slowly and be gentle – spend time in any tender or especially tight areas, but do not force it. You will benefit most from kindness and tenderness.

      • Breathe – you should be able to breathe slowly and deeply the entire time. If you find yourself holding your breath or tensing, you are pushing too hard.

      • Discomfort versus pain – there will be areas in your abdomen that feel uncomfortable. The invitation is to pause and breathe in these areas. If you feel pain, back off and only reenter if you can slowly and gently.

    Self-Abdominal Massage with your hands:

      • Lie on your back with a pillow under your head

      • Using the pads of your first 2 fingers, massage around your belly button beginning in the bottom right, in a counter clockwise direction around to the left.

      • Begin gently.

      • Slowly increase to larger circles and deeper pressure
    If you’d like to see a video demonstration of this, click here.

    Self-Abdominal Massage using a rolled up towel:

    • Roll up a large towel into the shape of a hamburger bun
    • Lie on your stomach with the towel under your belly
    • Begin with the towel closer to the right side of your abdomen – take 5-10 slow deep breaths
    • Slowly move the towel around the the left – pausing to breathe slowly in any tender spots



    Self-Abdominal Massage using a Coregeous Ball:

    This is one of my favorite tools to use for self-abdominal massage. The grippy-ness of the ball does a wonderful job of gently grabbing the connective tissue as you move and breathe – which helps with tension you with the relief you r body neeeds.


    Jill Miller, founder of Tune Up Fitness, is a pioneer of this amazing tool. Learn more about her methods here.


    This is one of the most helpful techniques for reducing tension in the fascia of the torso.

    Click here to watch a follow-along practice of how to use the coregeous ball. 👇🏻


    I hope you find this helpful and it provides you relief.

    May you be centered and strong.


    -Jessi Rose

    Hi I’m Jessi,

    For the past 10 years, I’ve been teaching yoga as a tool to help people reframe their relationship with movement. Yoga changed my life – it rescued me from cycles of chronic pain & anxiety attacks. And now, the mindfulness of yoga is a foundation of everything I teach.

    As a Holistic Fitness Trainer, my goal is to inspire people to love their bodies, so they can live pain-free, motivated & connected.

    A big part of what I do is: 200-hour Yoga Teacher Trainings, virtual workshops & yoga retreats with Stella Luna Yoga, click here to learn more.

    The list of my experience & training continues to grow. My coaching style focuses on strong foundations of body awareness & stabilization. I combine techniques from Yoga, Pilates, Strength Training, Massage Therapy & Mindfulness to craft well thought out & customized training plans to support all clients. To read more about my certifications, click here.

    3 Secrets to a STRONGER CORE

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