Rhythmical Massage Therapy for Abdominal Pain

Depending on the cause, in most cases abdominal pain can be positively influenced by rhythmical massage therapy.

What stands behind this is the guiding understanding of the law of polarity in massage, as described by Rudolf Steiner. The application of rhythmical massage helps steer the activity of the soul body within the whole (1, p. 298–300) (2). The polar opposite neurosensory and motor-metabolic systems can be brought into balance, particularly by using figure-eight patterns and varying qualities of touch. This leads to enhanced self-healing processes, corresponding to the rhythmic, mobile activities of the heart and respiration (as functions of the central rhythmic system). The further the therapist descends from this central chest area into the body areas below, the more she acts on organs located above. For example, massage of the abdomen can stimulate breathing, whereas foot massage can have a relieving effect in the head area.

  • For spastic, spasmodic abdominal pain:
    local, warming, loosening qualities of touch

  • For dull, piercing, visceral pain:
    treat with soft, sucking qualities of touch, pulling from the inside to the outside (3)
    diverting away (e.g., from the thigh downwards).

  • Abdominal pain can also be drawn away by
    treating the lower or upper back, in accordance with the law of polarity (see above).

  • For upper abdominal pain, accompanied by nausea, it can help to:
    cautiously stroke the sympathetic nervous system.

  • Postoperative abdominal pain can be treated locally according to the following rules:
    After the 3rd postoperative day, when the wound is already slightly more stable, we can start with a
    Rhythmical embrocation of the abdomen with Oxalis Folium 10% ointment WELEDA or with
    Oxalis e planta tota W 10%, Oleum WALA.
    The lower back can be treated in a supine position, as in rhythmical massage therapy.
    From the 4th or 5th postoperative day, if wound healing permits, we can also treat the abdomen with rhythmical massage therapy.

  • In principle, back treatment should be considered for any abdominal symptoms – except in the immediate postoperative phase. The back is often severely affected by the patient’s effort to adopt a posture that relieves the pain.

Recommended medicinal oils

Chamomilla e floribus W 10%, Oleum WALA
Carraway oil
Oxalis e planta tota W 10%, Oleum WALA

1 Steiner R. Introducing anthroposophical medicine. Great Barrington: Steiner Books; 2011.

2 Allmer C. Rhythmische Massage nach Dr. Ita Wegman bei COPD. Der Merkurstab 2011;64(5):500–505.

3 Hauschka M. Rhythmical Massage as indicated by Ita Wegman. Spring Valley: Mercury Press; 1991.

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For this study, Dr. Bettina Berger received the prestigious Holzschuh Award for Complementary Medicine. 

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