To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Abdominal Massage: Visceral Manipulation Achieves Organ-Specific Fascial Mobilization,” by Jean-Pierre Barral, D.O., M.R.O.(F), in the September 2012 issue. Article summary: When an organ is no longer freely mobile but is fixed to another structure, the body is forced to function around these abnormal points of tension. This paves the way for functional and structural problems throughout the many systems of the body—musculoskeletal, vascular, nervous, urinary, respiratory and digestive.

by Keren Trabelsi

As massage therapists, we tend to overlook abdominal massage. It is the one area left out of a massage routine simply because it might make the client feel vulnerable and the therapist uncomfortable; however, it is one of the more important areas of the body to massage, as the benefits are immediate and proactive.

Considered the body’s emotional library, where emotional information is stored, the abdominal area has what I call tension congestion. Tension and stress tend to accumulate in the internal organs as well as the other obvious and better-known tension-holding areas of the body. Therefore, there is great relief in unknotting and comforting this area.

Incorporating the Bellabaci Cupping Therapy Massage into your treatment procedure can enhance and increase overall healing results dramatically. Based on the principle of applying negative pressure on an area, pulling blood from up to 4 inches below the skin, the fresh, oxygenated blood, rich in nutrients and enzymes, floods the area to revive and detoxify the organs below. Negative-pressure massage can multiply benefits and the release.

The suction-pulling power of negative pressure over the abdomen stimulates the inside of the digestive organs, resulting in an increase of peristaltic action, secretion of digestive fluids and absorption of required nutrients and water, which assists the nourishing of body tissues. Immediate benefits include:

  • Clearing colon blockages
  • Breaking down fatty deposits
  • Encouraging blood and body-fluid movement in the bowels and internal organs
  • Soothing the nervous system
  • Releasing inner emotions
  • Promoting digestion
  • Relieving indigestion or heartburn

With regular abdominal cupping, there is an increase in digestive secretions that enhances peristaltic movement. Cupping will improve appetite, digestion, bile flow and metabolism, aid in the treatment of distension and acidity, help with conception, relieve constipation and promote regularity of the bowels. My clients have told me they were expelling an excess amount of waste shortly after treatments and experienced a significant increase of eliminations throughout their day.

The suction reaches up to 4 inches into the soft tissue, attachments and organs. It draws out toxins and inflammation from the body to the surface of the skin, where the lymphatic system eliminates them.

Cupping is a great method to detox the lungs as well. By gently draining the rib cage, you can treat colds, pneumonia and persistent coughs. In fact, any type of lung dis-ease will benefit from a cupping massage; don t be alarmed if your client starts coughing intensely after treatment, as it is just stagnation being expelled.

Before offering cupping, you need to acquire the necessary training and then practice on family, friends and co-workers before working on clients.

Always ask the client if the pressure is uncomfortable in any way. The stomach, hips and thighs require a gentler suction than what you would use on the back, for instance. Use the softer body cup when cupping the abdominal area.

Watch closely to determine the circulatory reaction and adjust the suction as needed. It is a good idea to start with a medium-to-light pressure and increase slowly. Marks may occur with very strong cupping—and while this may be considered beneficial in traditional Chinese medicine, this is usually not the way to send a client home from her massage.

There are additional safety considerations to be aware of when integrating cupping into your practice. Most of them are common sense, yet ought to be seriously considered. This is one of the greatest reasons to acquire adequate training before starting work on clients.

Keren Trabelsi is a spokesperson for Bellabaci. For more information, visit