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No one knows how much money and effort has been spent to achieve the 6-pack look. How many gym memberships have been purchased, how many sit-ups completed? Obviously a whole lot, and rightfully so. A strong muscular tummy looks healthy, sexy, and is certainly an attractive feature at the gym. The 6-pack look (actually it should be called the 8-pack, but the lower sections are usually not visible), is achieved by the proper development of the frontally located erect muscles of the abdomen (Rectus Abdominis), and is shaped by the tendinous strips, transecting the muscles horizontally and vertically

From a massage therapy perspective, however, the looks are secondary to me. Working with my clients, I worry about the muscle health, function and balance. And from this point of view, the Rectus Abdominis is quite vulnerable.

You see, the muscles located higher in the body get stability and protection from the rib cage. The ones lower in the body, around the pelvis, owe their support to the massive pelvic bone. The Rectus Abdominis, however, has no such luxury. Serving as the main flexor of the trunk, it is attached from below to the crest of the pubic bone in the groin, and from above to the Xiphoid process and the cartilages of ribs 5 – 7. In the absence of support from skeletal structures, this beautiful and hard-working muscle has to rely on itself and on your massage therapist to stay healthy. And this is not easy even in a slim, well-tuned body. Try now to visualize the strain the Rectus Abdominis has to withstand if the owner has a massive beer gut, or is pregnant.

When Rectus Abdominis becomes short and tight, or when it develops little knots (trigger points), the pain is usually felt not only in the muscle itself. It refers to the chest, lower back and the visceral organs as well. Keep that in mind. It is common for muscular pain in the abdomen to be misdiagnosed as a digestion problem.

Therefore, I always make it a point to include the Rectus Abdominis massage in my full body routine. If you have a persistent pain in your abdomen, chest, or stomach, please come and see me. There is a good chance I’ll be able to help you. Book online at, or call the Breathe Spa at 403-457-3060 and make an appointment with me for a therapeutic or a relaxation massage.

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