So why does this make abdominal work important? Posture is a habit. When the body is used to being in incorrect posture/position it will create a whole host of compensations to keep us as upright as possible. When we have bad posture we do not use certain muscles they way they were meant to be used. Ever heard the phrase "Use it or lose it"? Well this applies to muscles. If we don't use them they become weak and cannot perform their intended function. This results in muscular imbalances that can cause a lot of chronic pain, stiffness, and general soreness. If you have areas that always seem stiff and tight, chances are it is because those muscles are being used too much and working to take up the slack of other muscles.
In my previous post I talked about how we tend not to use the diaphragm as we should. Well if the diaphragm is restricted from not being used, it can prevent the ribs from fully expanding, it can pull on the muscles of the back, the psoas, and abs. It is essentially a domino effect. If there is dysfunction in one muscle it will affect those around it.
By finding the areas of tension and restriction, a therapist can release that pull. Massage helps flush that ischemic (a lack of blood flow) tissue with fresh fluid/blood, bringing in oxygen and needed nutrients. For example, by working along and slightly under the edge of the ribs I can affect the attachment points of the transvers abdominus, the rectus abdominus, and the diaphragm. If there is tension and restriction that is released it allows the chest to move into better posture on it's own.
I had a client come in and only worked the abdominal region. No back or shoulder work at all. When the session ended they stood taller and straighter. Also, the shoulders were in a more neutral position. The client mentioned that the left shoulder had been causing pain and after the session the shoulder felt looser and lighter.
The posas and illiacus can be major participants in low back and hip pain. Have you ever had a massage that felt good, but like it didn't quite hit where the pain was coming from? It is very possible it was a deeper back muscle or the psoas causing that pain. A short, tight psoas wants to pull the spine forward (how it is when you bend forward or are in a sitting position). If is is stuck in this shortened position, it puts a great deal of strain on the low back. The muscles of the back tighten up in response so you don't stay bent at the waist. Our body is basically fighting against itself to keep us upright.