To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Reader Expressions,” in the September 2012 issue. Article summary: We asked: Do you routinely include abdominal massage in each session? Why, or why not?

I include abdominal massage on 98 percent of my clients. I always ask permission from clients if they want me to massage their abdomen. Some women are hesitant but I explain to them the benefits—and if they do not feel comfortable, then I can discontinue the massage. If their job is sitting all day, that will compress their visceral organs because abdominal muscles are contracted. It also helps release the tightness of low-back muscles. It is also good for constipation. I noticed that clients have a better posture after an abdominal massage. Those are just a few reasons why I incorporate abdominal massage in my practice.

Anastacia V. Hodgson

Midland, Texas

If it is the first time I am seeing a client, I will ask him if he wants an abdominal massage as part of his treatment. I find that male clients are more open to it than female clients and I think that, in general, a client’s reluctance is often due to the fact the abdominal area is a very vulnerable area. When you look at other species, you see mammals protect their abdominal area at all costs because of an instinctive knowledge that damage to the organs and viscera can be fatal.

Susan Obijiski

Sedona, Arizona

When I first became a licensed massage therapist, I found the only people who wanted stomach massage were the men, who would become aroused the closer I got to the belly button. It happened often enough that I left it out of my routine unless it was asked for. Now, years later, I still do not include it into my routine except for psoas work. Not so much for the original reason, but because I just don’t think about it.

Diane Foster

Portland, Oregon

I believe it is a very important aspect of the massage, especially for low-back problems. I try to include abdominal massage if the client will allow or is comfortable with it. But the majority of clients don’t know why you would need to do abdominal work, so you have to explain the benefits and importance of this work.

Pamela (last name omitted)

Oregon City, Oregon

I only include abdominal massage if the client requests it. More often, a client will clarify that she does not want her abdomen addressed in her full-body massage, so I’ll trust clients to inform me when they need it. This gives us more time to spend on the neck, shoulders and infamous low back.

Jessica McCormick

Mountain View, California

I include abdominal massage in almost every full-body massage I do. I have done so for my entire massage career of 27 years. At first I did it because I was trained that way, but over the years I have seen the wisdom and benefits of doing so. Also, some personal health experiences in that area taught me to have a greater respect for the abdominal and organ area and its physical and emotional functions, and how massage and energy therapies are so important in the healing process.

Janet Angel

Richmond, Rhode Island

I do include it in my full-body massage. I ask the client if he would like it performed with that massage. I find that since not all massage therapists include it, it is something I offer that is new to most clients. I find some love it and some do not, but I am never told they are sorry they tried it.

Cheryl Pavlik

Worthington, Pennsylvania

Yes, if the client wants tummy massage and if I have time. I think it’s a nice way of addressing digestive and reproductive support and also brings an awareness to this often neglected area of the body. My men seem to enjoy it the most, but all are appreciative. In this culture, more often than not, abdominal massage is greatly neglected.

Hope Haviland

Norwich, Vermont

I rarely do abdominal massage. I work for a chiropractor and my clients are injured, with neck and back pain. I just don’t have time to include abdominal massage unless it’s asked for.

Carol Slagle

Logan, Utah