One hand holds a vial of massage oil in front of a person massaging their own abdomen.

Self-Massage With Your Partner for Pain Relief

Whenever we have pain, abdominal, or anywhere else in the body, we often rub it intuitively for some relief – and for good reason. There are a number of mechanisms that contribute to the pain relief felt from massage. Firstly, manipulation of the tissue increases blood flow to an area and can help relax muscles. The repetitive nature of massage is also relaxing and can calm the stress and anxiety that exacerbate pain. Finally, massage may interrupt the pain signals being sent to the brain, leading to a reduced sense of that pain.

In an ideal world, we would all get regular massages from professionals and be loose and calm and pain free all the time. But if that isn’t an option for you, like with most of us, then self-massage is a great option. Of course, I write about supporting someone with endometriosis, so any self-massage techniques can be learned and used by someone supporting someone with endo on that person with endo. There are a number of massage techniques that you can use on yourself, and some specifically for abdominal pain that I will mention below.

Things to consider

But first, some words of caution. Self-massage is very safe as the person applying the pressure is the person feeling if anything is too hard, in the wrong place, or just doesn’t feel right. To make sure that massage done by a partner is equally safe, it’s important that you constantly communicate with that person. Make sure you are listening to them, asking if it hurts, if there is too much pressure being applied. Be communicative about this and always steer on the side of caution and less pressure.

Massage techniques

The first technique I wanted to suggest is recommended by Heba Shaheed, a physiotherapist specializing in endometriosis. Heba believes that abdominal massage can be helpful in loosening tissue in the abdomen and pelvis, addressing some of the issues associated with scarring and adhesions, like pelvic pain, bowel pain, and the endo belly. She recommends massaging the abdomen in clockwise circles (to aid digestion as it follows the digestive pathway of the colon) about 5-10 times regularly before bed to aid in reduction of pain symptoms and improve sleep. This can easily be done by a partner.

Another massage suggestion to reduce cramping that can easily be done by a partner is to lay back and have a partner warm up a small amount of massage oil. Then have them gently move their hands in small circles outwards from your navel. They can then place both hands flat on your abdomen and apply gentle pressure to ease any cramping – remember to communicate any discomfort.

Learn more

This is a very brief introduction to a couple of techniques you could begin to try, but if you want to look further into the subject there is a couple of places you could begin. Firstly, this Instagram interview with Jessica Duffin of This EndoLife and Tara Ghosh, an Arvigo massage therapist. Arvigo massage is a gentle massage therapy that can aid in abdominal pain reduction. Tara Ghosh recommends a number of self-massage techniques in the interview. Similarly, listen to episode 72 of This EndoLife Podcast for an interview with Carine Camara which covers self-massage, acupressure and castor oil packs for endometriosis pain relief.

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